Lebanon opens new $17M tobacco factory in Hadath
The factory will start production in June and has the capacity to increase Lebanon's cigarette boxes by 23,000.
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Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil inaugurated Tuesday a $17 million tobacco factory that could help increase Regie Company revenues by $40 million a year.
The factory, which is located in Hadath, will start production in June of this year and has the capacity to boost production from 12,000 boxes of cigarettes a month to 35,000.
According to director-general of Regie Nassif Meskawi, the factory has a license to manufacture leading international tobacco brands.
Khalil heaped praise on the state-owned Regie Company.
“Regrettably, there was a long-standing view in the state and the system that the Lebanese economy has no room for productive sectors such as industry and agriculture,” the minister said.
He added that this relatively small experience confirms that industry should play a prominent role Lebanon.
Khalil renewed calls to restore faith in the state and its institutions.
The minister underlined the need to endorse the 2015 draft budget as soon as possible.
“There is no excuse for the state not to have an official budget for more than a decade.
“The budget will control expenditures, organize the finances of state and introduce a vision on developmental, economic and financial reforms,” the minister argued.
The Cabinet is still discussing the draft budget, but there is no clear indication that the bill will be passed anytime soon. Observers rule out the possibility that the bill will be endorsed in the coming months due to the sharp differences among the main political groups.
Sources say that some lawmakers are not too keen to include the public sector employee salary scale proposal to the bill, although publicly they voice support for it.
The minister has proposed a series of taxes to finance the wage hike for civil servants and public school teachers.
“We should not come up with excuses, such as exceptional circumstances in the country, in order to not fulfill our duties. And one of our duties is to discuss and approve the budget,” Khalil said.
He also criticized the tone of the political speeches that have even touched all taboos in the country.
In a recent statement, the International Monetary Fund urged Lebanese financial authorities to pass the draft budget and to consider raising the value added tax by 1 percentage point at least.
It also urged the government to take decisive steps to reduce the losses of Electricite du Liban.
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