In a statement on 1 July, Finance Minister Jihad Azour said that EdL’s losses rose by $304.2m over the same period in 2007.

The loss led to the country’s budget deficit rising to 33.6 per cent of total expenditure, compared with 24.6 last year.

The Finance Ministry regularly issues letters of credit to finance the purchase of oil and fuel oil feedstock for the country’s power plants.

A scheme to rehabilitate the ailing electricity provider is already under way. The Closing the Financial Gap project includes two contracts. The first covers improving the collection of tariffs, introducing automatic metering and installing 1.25 million electricity meters in homes across the country.

The second contract covers the operation and maintenance of the distribution network.

The Water & Electricity Ministry received five bids for the contracts in May (MEED 6:5:08).