Mon, 02 Oct 2023

BEIRUT, June 7 (Xinhua) -- Lebanon on Wednesday made a key legislative move toward the creation of a sovereign wealth fund fed by the country's future offshore oil revenues, the National News Agency reported.

The Lebanese parliament's Finance and Budget Committee passed Wednesday a bill on setting up the fund concerning the oil and gas revenue, in the event the exploration turns out to be profitable.

The bill now awaited the parliament to convene for its enactment.

Under the bill, 80 percent of the sovereign fund's revenues would be placed in savings and investment portfolios according to standards determined by an independent board of directors that employs these funds outside Lebanon, the committee head Ibrahim Kanaan said.

The other 20 percent would be allocated for developing sustainable and investment projects domestically, he added.

"The law is subject to standards of transparency, accountability, and monitoring, and we have adopted the model approved by the International Monetary Fund and globally by sovereign funds similar to this fund," Kanaan said.

Lebanon currently has no offshore oil and gas revenues, but a U.S.-brokered maritime border demarcation deal between Lebanon and Israel, which was finalized last October, brought both countries closer to oil and gas exploration in their waters after years of negotiations.

In late January, Qatar signed an agreement with Lebanon to join the consortium of France's TotalEnergies and Italy's ENI for oil and gas exploration in blocks 4 and 9 in the Lebanese territorial waters.

Earlier this year, TotalEnergies said excavation in Block 9 will begin in September this year.

Lebanon needs revenues from the oil and gas sector as the country reels under an unprecedented financial crisis.

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