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Lebanon Opportunities

Lebanon Opportunities November 2017

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
step by step

While you weren’t looking, improvements were being made. We now have a budget and the economy is starting to show renewed positive signs. But being the country that it is, a new set of challenges are next on the agenda. As usual, losers will predict disasters, while doers will keep on … doing. A BUDGET! After 12 years of haggling, a budget was voted for by Parliament. A symbolic gesture, as the year is closing. It is also a necessity mandated by the Constitutional Council. Other constitutional articles however were breached. New taxes, to fund raises in public sector wages, were approved. All of a sudden, a deafening silence has replaced the crazy apocalyptic predictions of otherwise sane economists and business leaders (see page 28). We are promised a quick follow-up by…

1 min
bits & bytes

SOUND BYTES We cannot handle Syrian refugees anymore President Michel Aoun Without taxes, our Sovereign ratings will go down Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri Our focus is on getting the economy out of its slumber Prime Minister Saad Hariri We need an economic emergency plan to achieve extra growth Gebran Bassil, Minister of Foreign Affairs We won’t let bygones be bygones in the reconciliation of public accounts Raed Khoury, Minister of Economy and Trade Even the shaving razor is getting taxed! Sami Gemayel, MP Additional sanctions will not affect our banking sector Riad Salameh, Governor of the Central Bank If there is no reform after the elections, we will face an explosive situation Mohamed Choucair, Chairman of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture We expect Internet speeds to increase by 20 times Imad Kraydieh, Director-General of Ogero We…

6 min
in good company

ESA AND HEC JOIN HANDS Ecole Supérieure Des Affaires (ESA) in partnership with HEC Paris, a university specialized in management, have launched a Masters in Entrepreneurship. The program, which will start in September 2018, is supported by the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Beirut and Mount Lebanon. Mohamed Choucair, Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, said that the chamber will provide scholarships for this program. The program targets students interested in starting their own business, taking over an existing business or aiming to work in entrepreneurial units of larger companies. Stephan Attali, General Manager of ESA, said: “We expect the program will witness large demand.” The master’s program was prepared by ESA under the supervision of HEC. French professors, experts, and mentors will be giving courses, as well as…

3 min
money & banking

CENTRAL BANK EXTENDS STIMULUS PACKAGE The Central Bank (BDL) has decided to inject an additional $500 million into the stimulus package for 2017, aiming to finance productive projects and home purchases at subsidized rates. This brings the stimulus earmarked for the current year to $1.5 billion. The original $1 billion set out for 2017 has already been allocated. BDL will continue to charge the banks a one percent interest rate on the additional funds if they are denominated in liras. The banks will pay an interest rate equivalent to the upper limit of the US Federal Funds Rate on loans denominated in dollars. The additional funds should be used to finance new projects or to expand existing ones. They cannot be used to refinance existing projects. The benefiting projects can come…

8 min
official business

PARLIAMENT RATIFIES THE TAX LAW FOR THE SECOND TIME Parliament has approved, for the second time, the tax law that aims to finance a pay rise for public servants. The law was previously revoked by the Constitutional Council and was returned to Parliament. The lawmakers again raised the Value Added Tax (VAT) to 11 percent from ten percent, as they did in the previous ratification. The approved taxes include new fees on imported alcoholic drinks, phone bills, tobacco, real estate contracts, and the lottery. The Members of Parliament (MPs) also approved the imposing of annual fines on seashore properties illegally built on government land. The Government said that it collected nearly $800 million from the banks on the profit they realized through the financial engineering operations last year, however, the Government…

3 min
matters of fact

REMITTANCES FORECASTED TO RISE Remittance inflows are expected to reach $7.87 billion this year, up 3.3 percent compared with 2016, according to the World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief. The remittance inflows for 2017 will account for 14.6 percent of the country’s GDP. Roger Melki, economist and consultant at Bank BEMO, said that the increase in interest rates on local deposits and the financial engineering operations of the Central Bank (BDL) are attracting more funds to the country. He said that some self-employed Lebanese working abroad, especially in Europe, are moving their fiscal residence to the local market in order to optimize their situation. This also contributes to the growth in remittances, Melki said. The cost of sending money to MENA countries was 7.4 percent in the third quarter of 2017,…