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Lebanon Opportunities

Lebanon Opportunities May 2019

Lebanon Opportunities is a quarterly business magazine that covers: Finance, Real estate, Economy, and Local business. Lebanon Opportunities has tens of thousands of readers in Lebanon and across the globe. It is the prime local business magazine in Lebanon in terms of readership, advertising, and name-awareness. Lebanon Opportunities is written to a target of small business owners, entrepreneurs and middle management, as well as to Lebanese living abroad. It aims at bringing complex business issues in a simple manner understandable by readers who are not experts and whose English language is not the mother tongue.

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3 min
economic terrorism

Only a few of months ago, government officials were taking the airwaves to reassure worried savers and investors about the sustainability of public finances and that of the lira. All of a sudden the Prime Minister is alluding to the possibility of a Greek scenario, the über Minister of Foreign Affairs has given public servants the choice of a pay cut now or no wages by year end. What led to this deluge of apocalyptic scenarios? INCOMPETENCE Shooting from the hip is the current official plan for economic salvage and reform. From one day to another, measures under consideration jump from shaving off wages, increasing VAT, reducing electricity production, pressuring banks to lower interest rates, increasing taxes levied on interest earned by depositors, just to name a few. What is missing is…

1 min
bits & bytes

SOUND BYTES The crisis is difficult but it is not very difficult to solve it. Lebanon will prosper President Michel Aoun Europeans are indebted to Lebanon Greece President Prokopis Pavlopoulos If we don’t take the necessary measures we will face a scenario similar to that of Greece Prime Minister Saad Hariri State employees must accept that they cannot continue this way. It is sad that they will lose a certain percentage of their entitlements. If we do not act, they will lose everything Gebran Bassil, Minister of Foreign Affairs I apologize because I am still optimistic. It’s been years that we hear about an imminent economic collapse. Our economy is resilient and the confidence is there Riad Salameh, Governor of the Central Bank We are in a difficult situation, but we have not collapsed nor are we on the verge of…

1 min
proposed bills

To facilitate the implementation of the aforementioned measures and enable a sustainable public finances reform, the following three bills are proposed: 1. A tax reform bill that aims to increase the efficiency and fairness of the tax system and that evaluates the possibility of adopting a unified tax base. 2. A bill to revise the organizational structure of the government whereby any obsolete and unnecessary institutions, councils, funds and bodies would be abolished. 3. A modern bill that would regulate government tax exemptions, incentives and sponsorship required for the productive sectors, in a way that contributes to the realization of a regionally inclusive, and export and production-driven economic growth. The bill should also strictly penalize any damage brought to the environment, public property, natural and historical resources. 4. To conclude, in my capacity as…

4 min

Practical solutions to a negative situation Mansour Bteich Minister of Economy and Trade Citizens are anticipating a financial and economic collapse of their country, and see it as only a matter of time before it happens. Some government officials are further fueling such an anxious public economic sentiment. A RACE AGAINST TIME Public debt has reached around $87 billion to date, and debt service alone could exceed $6.5 billion. These figures, along with a widening twin-deficit, a negative trade balance and balance of payments, warrant me to affirm that our economic reality is in a dire state. On a bright and honest side, the adoption of the right solutions will allow us to unlock considerable untapped potential, casting a new positive light on the country’s economic outlook. Despite our race against time, and two months…

2 min
recommended immediate actions

A series of growth-enabling measures remain to be implemented in the near term, of which I propose the following: 1. Prioritize the introduction of progressive equilibrium to the public finance and approve the budget. This necessitates parliamentary ratification of the draft laws of the final accounts for the period from 1997 to 2017, prior to the presentation of the 2019 state budget. The 2019 budget should clearly indicate the government’s policy direction in the form of priorities and plans. It should also address wasteful and inefficient government spending especially in terms of transfers to private entities, bonuses and special measures that benefit some workers in public administrations and institutions over and above their remuneration and actual overtime. Another imperative is the creation of a unified system for the provision of social…

7 min
in good company

SMART ESA TO LAUNCH FINTECH AND B2B ACCELERATOR ESA Business School’s incubator and accelerator, Smart ESA, plans to launch before the end of 2019 an acceleration program that will mainly focus on financial technology (fintech) and business-to-business (B2B) solutions, said Jihad Bitar, Director of Smart ESA. This will be ESA’s first acceleration program to benefit from the Circular 331 of the Central Bank (BDL). The university has so far been tapping its own financial resources. Smart ESA will inject cash in early-stage startups in exchange for equity. The nine-month program could include various fintech solutions such as blockchain technology, according to Bitar. Lebanon’s fintech market is still underdeveloped, he said. The B2B solution could include developing software for businesses, Bitar said. The program will leverage ESA Business School’s relationship with banks…