Financial burden of Syrian refugees too high
Interrupted Arab investments take their toll
The Issam Fares Center for Lebanon organized a symposium to discuss the economic and social repercussions of the Syrian war on the country, with the participation of Abdullah Dardari, former Vice-President of the Syrian Prime Minister, and director of economic development and globalization at the ESCWA.
Dardari said transit and Arab tourism were particularly affected by the situation. According to him, Lebanon used to bear the negative effects of high oil prices, but this was counterbalanced by funds transferred from Gulf States. With the interruption of these transfers, only the negative effects remained.
He added that the drop in European and Arab aid will make it hard to offset low growth rates. “If the Syrian war is ended, Syria’s growth rate will rise to about 20 percent, which will have a growth effect in Lebanon at around four or five percent.”
Economic expert Louis Hobeika acknowledged the problem of competition from Syrian refugees in the labor market, but said the country could benefit from particular skills available in this new workforce.
On the other hand, affluent Syrian businessmen did not settle in the country or start large-scale projects. “Syrian deposits in Lebanese banks, amounting to billions of dollars, have not been invested yet,” said Dardari.
Hobeika said Lebanon is unable to bear the costs of the refugee flow, estimated at $1.5 billion annually. “Lack of coordination between ministries under the caretaker government, prevents proper dealing with the demographic, political, administrative, financial, environmental, social, and humanitarian repercussions of the Syrian displaced.”
Reported by Alexis Baghdadi
Date Posted: Aug 07, 2013