Beirut, Jun 13 (IANS): Lebanon has appealed to the UN to help cover the electricity expenses of Syrian and Palestinian refugees living in the country.
"The cost of electricity consumed by refugees ... must be paid through electricity tariff," caretaker Energy Minister Walid Fayyad was quoted by National News Agency as saying on Monday after he met with UN agencies.
Fayyad said he agreed during the meeting to form two technical committees, with the first to deal with the electricity consumption in Syrian camps and the second in Palestinian camps, Xinhua news agency reported.
"We cannot allow this issue to disturb the financial balance of Lebanon's state power company, which was on the brink of collapse," he noted.
The lack of electricity in Lebanon has been a chronic problem and cost the treasury over 40 per cent of its sovereign debt.
The electricity problem was exacerbated in the past three years by the country's financial crisis, as the shortage of US dollars limits its fuel imports needed for the operation of existing power stations.
Lebanese authorities have been trying to secure a safe return of Syrian refugees to their homeland as the cost of their presence in Lebanon is estimated at around $6 billion per year instead of the $3 billion assessed by the World Bank in 2013, according to Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib in an interview in May.