Lebanon’s minister of industry, George Frem, introduced a 12-point “rush” program, which he said was designed to lower production costs for industrialists and increase the competitiveness of locally made products.
Speaking to a press conference, Frem urged the government to abolish customs duties on all imports of raw materials, providing that they are not produced locally. The government currently imposes tariffs of 6 percent on imported finished goods that are used as raw materials.
At the same time Frem expressed his opposition to a proposal that import duties be cut on goods that also are manufactured in Lebanon. According to the government proposal. Certain tariffs will be reduced from 100 percent to 5 percent, reported the Daily Star.. “Any cuts in import duties should be gradually introduced over a five-year period to allow industrialists to build some muscle,” he said.
At the press conference, Frem announced his intention to announce in 2001 a long-term program to generate 50,000 work places in the country. He also said he intends doubling exports to $1.4 billion, increasing the industrial sectors contribution to DDP to 20 percent, and to raise the growth of the industrial sector to 15 percent.
Other measures in Frem’s 12-point plan include a reduction of social security payments for employers, a reduction in rates paid by industry for food and water, and a reduction in port and clearance duties. — (Albawaba-MEBG)