NNA – The Kserwan-Ftouh Forum under the chairmanship of MP Farid Elias Al-Khazen, held a seminar on the developmental projects of the region at the Lebanese Automotive and Tourism Club (ATCL) in Kaslik, in the presence of Economy Minister, Raed Khoury, and Tourism Minister, Avedis Guidanian, as well as MPs Naamtallah Abi Nasr and Walid Khoury, and ranking dignitaries.
The meeting began with a speech by the Minister of Economy Raed Khoury, who welcomed “the completion of the new electoral law.”
The minister listed the crises suffered by Lebanon, on top of which “the public debt, which reached $ 75 billion on a Gross National product of $ 50 billion, with taxes of $ 6 billion paid per year, added to the declining money transfers to Lebanon from Lebanese expatriates in the Gulf and Africa, as a result of the decline in oil prices worldwide.”
The minister went on to highlight the number of displaced Syrians, which reached a million and a half, the latter consuming Lebanese infrastructure and competing with the Lebanese labor force, added to Lebanon’s loss of the Syrian capital which went to the Arab countries.
He also underlined the size of salaries of public employees and the end-of-service indemnities, criticizing random recruitment for electoral purposes. “It is known that the public sector is not productive, unlike private enterprises,” he said.
Khoury announced, accordingly, “The development of a comprehensive economic plan adopted at the highest levels.”
“This plan is aimed to protect small and medium-sized enterprises, and take strict measures like warning municipalities against irregularities with regard to displaced Syrians. (…) In case of failure, a hotline for the Ministry of Economy is set, on the following number: 1739,” he said, assuring that the plan includes providing loans, protecting against foreign competition, (…) reducing taxes and working with the customs to clear goods in a short period of time.
He also announced a plan for the Casino Du Liban “to increase its revenues and contract with institutions from abroad to support the new board of directors and update the casino in light of competition with neighboring countries.”
He stressed, as a Free Patriotic Movement member, “not to remain silent over any sort of theft within the Lebanese state”, and pledged this political camp’s adherence to transparency, seriousness and firmness.
Minister Guidanian, for his part, stressed the need to “relay a clear picture of the economic situation, especially after the completion of the new electoral law and the developmental efforts not only in Keserwan – Ftouh area, but across Lebanon.”
“The Ministry of Tourism has concluded agreements with over 150 institutions from 40 countries to make Lebanon their tourist destination,” he said, stressing the role of media in “highlighting the beautiful and bright image of Lebanon, after it focused, directly or indirectly, on the dreadful crises that occurred recently.”
“Forbes magazine’s latest study lists Lebanon among the cheapest 25 destinations for the summer of 2017,” he went on, underlining the country’s stable situation, amid the shaken security conditions in neighboring countries.
“All of these elements enhance tourism and stimulate tourists to come to Lebanon.”
Guidanian announced “working with new countries such as India, China and Russia to push their citizens towards tourism in Lebanon, so as to bring the country back on the tourism map.”
“The ministry is also working on restoring the tourist momentum from Arab countries,” he said, finally announcing “the activation of a Cyprus-Lebanon sea line to begin cruises in August.”
“These cruises are set to bring about 200 to 250 tourists and vice versa,” the minister said, explaining that he is working on “having these ships dock in the port of Jounieh, for what the city has of religious and cultural aspects, as well as adventures and markets.”
Deputy Khazen, in turn, stressed that “the adoption of a new electoral law is the means to get out of the existing crisis.”
He explained that “the project of the port of Jounieh has begun, and will certainly be completed in light of its contributions to the economic growth of the region.”