BEIRUT: Lebanon’s ongoing economic crisis has affected many of the country’s sectors, severely hitting an industrial sector on the brink of collapse.
To send out a cry for urgent help, the Association for Lebanese Industrialists organized a large convention on Tuesday titled the “Last Call, Last Chance.”
Almost 5,000 industrialists from all over Lebanon flocked to Seaside Arena to express their crucial demands through unified chants.
The assembly featured an opening speech by Maurice Matta, a business news presenter, financial analyst, and economic media expert. Matta expressed the urgency of the matter at hand, explained the issues the industry has been facing for over a year and called for the immediate protection of one of Lebanon’s most pivotal sectors.
Iman Helou, a representative of the industrial sector, also gave an impassioned speech demanding justice for all members of the industrial sector.
According to the World Bank statistics of 2018, the Lebanese industrial sector contributes 14 percent of local production, and according to the McKinsey report, there are 195,000 workers and 5,500 registered factories in the industry.
As things currently stand, the financial security industrial workers and factories are at immense risk.
The Association for Lebanese Industrialists also called for the implementation of steps to stimulate the industry imposing further taxes on imports, offering reasonable and inexpensive incentives, decreasing municipal taxes and export fees, exempting industrialists from real estate immunization taxes, and rehabilitating industrial areas.
One of the various concerns the association’s president Dr. Fadi Gemayel expressed was “the necessity to secure bank transfers for the import of raw materials required by the national industry at an annual value of 3 billion dollars.”
Gemayel also stressed the need to “pump 300 million dollars immediately to import industrial raw materials, otherwise, the industry would enter a situation of serious deterioration.”
Gemayel also announced that Riad Salemeh, the governor of the Central Bank, had agreed to issue prompt measures regarding industrial raw materials.
Neemat Frem, a Lebanese businessman and politician, told Annahar that the dynamic of today’s event was “fantastic,” and that it proved the “the industrial sector is here to stay.”
“Now is the right time to think of creating new products to satisfy the local market and compete with the global market,” Frem said, advising the struggling industrialists of Lebanon to “stick to their commitment, for together we will prevail and change the mindset of Lebanon.”
Nazareth Sabounjian, treasurer of the Association of Lebanese Industrialists and a board member of 28 years, told Annahar that the association has, for years, been reiterating to the governing bodies that “the only liberator of Lebanon’s economy is its industrial sector,” expressing his hope that today’s demonstration will “affect the necessary change.”
According to Michel Sayah, engineer and president of the Industrial Zones committee within the Association for Lebanese Industrialists, “Today’s event was to voice out the cry of all struggling industrialists.”
“However,” Sayah told Annahar, “the most essential demand, whose actualization, if not applied, will kill the sector in a very short period of time, is that there is a lack of industrial raw materials.”
He continued, “We received a promise from the governor of the central bank of Lebanon, and we are in hopes that it will be maintained.”
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