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Lebanon disburses funds to avert bread crisis

Lebanon’s government will disburse USD 15 million to temporarily resolve growing bread shortages in the country, according to information Reuters has obtained from the Economy Minister Amin Salam. The funds would only last a few weeks, however.

The news agency reported there were long lines outside bakeries across the country after industry insiders warned that the government had not extended a long-promised credit line for the subsidized good. Salam told Reuters that the government was not currently considering lifting bread subsidies and would instead seek a USD 150 million agreement with the World Bank to improve food security because in the long term “we won’t be able to subsidize anything, much less bread”.

Lebanon is heavily reliant on food imports and pays for them in dollars, which have become increasingly difficult to obtain since its economy crashed in 2019.

The war in Ukraine has worsened the country’s bread shortage, as Ukraine normally supplies most of Lebanon’s wheat. Moreover, Beirut’s largest silos were destroyed in the 2020 port blast, so reserves cannot be stored.

“We don’t have silos and we don’t have money,” said Ghassan Bou Habib, vice president of Wooden Bakery, one of the country’s largest bakery networks. “Bread will become a luxury item – it will become an expensive commodity,” Reuters quotes.

Photo: Byblos, Lebanon (credit: Pexels)