Economic Bodies unite against economy slowdown
Stability and reforms are needed urgently
The Economic Bodies held a conference at the BIEL center today to discuss the consequences of the current economic slowdown and geopolitical instability. Leaders across different sectors called for an economic defense strategy to weather these crises.
Adnan Kassar, President of the Economic Bodies, said: “The economic decline will affect not only economic activity but foreign investments as well.” He said GDP growth in 2012 was still below the required levels, calling for more dialogue to take advantage of potential opportunities.
Mohammad Choucair, President of Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, said that economic drivers are facing a real danger: “We need to protect people’s wellbeing and sources of income.”
Lack of stability, coupled with GCC States’ ban on tourism in Lebanon, has affected the hospitality and retail sectors as well. Pierre Achkar, President of the Syndicate of Hotels Owners, said: “We need a united stand to avoid an economic breakdown such as the one in Cyprus.”
“Stability would help bring back Gulf tourists who are now going to Istanbul and Dubai instead,” said Nicolas Chammas, Head of the Beirut Traders Association. Paul Ariss, President of the Syndicate of Owners of Restaurants, Clubs, Cafés and Pastry Shops, said: “We have to encourage subsidized loans such as Kafalat to save businesses.”
Some sectors performed well despite the situation. Joseph Torbey, President of the Association of Banks in Lebanon, reassured citizens concerning the stability of the banking sector. “Banks’ good performance was encouraged by Lebanese citizen’s solidarity,” he said.
Participants in the conference said additional steps will be taken later. “For now, we urgently need to raise awareness about the seriousness of the situation in different sectors,” said Georges Nasrawi, President of the Syndicate of Lebanese Food Industries.
“We will fight to keep the economy stable and to create new job opportunities. We are now in an economic resistance and it is time for an urgent economic plan,” said Nehmat Frem, President of the Association of Lebanese Industrialists.
Economic leaders called on President Michel Sleiman to accelerate the implementation of the Baabda Declaration’s recommendations. They also urged the government to offer humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees to prevent further social degradation.
Reported by Joelle Nassar
Date Posted: Jun 11, 2013