Remittances key to economic development

Heads of economic associations in Lebanon emphasized the importance of contributions by Lebanese expats to the Lebanese economy at a news conference held Thursday at Phoenicia Hotel.“Expats play a vital role in the activation of the Lebanese economy noting that their deposits reached until now around $31 billion out of a total of $152 billion,” said Joseph Torbey, president of the Association of Banks in Lebanon.Torbey added that deposit inflows of Lebanese expats to the country reached a staggering $8.5 billion a year, which is equivalent to 20 percent of GDP, one of the highest rates worldwide.“Transfers by expats help in supporting the purchasing power of Lebanese households while increasing consumption and preserving monetary stability,” he said

Torbey’s remarks came during a news conference held to announce the launching of Lebanon’s emigrants conference which will take place on Dec. 15 at Phoenicia Hotel. Dubbed “Lebanon: Bridge for Interaction,” the event will be organized by Al Iktissad Wal Aamal in cooperation with the Central Bank, the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon and the Federation of Lebanese chambers.

It aims to highlight the role of emigrant remittances in Lebanon’s economic development.

Torbey’s comments were echoed by Nabil Itani, chairman of the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon, who said that Lebanon topped the list of countries in the region in 2014 with regards to deposit inflows from expats while it ranked 16 worldwide.

He added that Lebanese expats play a big role in activating trade between Lebanon and their countries of residence.

Likewise, Mohammad Choucair, president of the Chambers of Commerce, Agriculture and Industry, said that expats play a vital role in creating bridges between Lebanon, and Arab and foreign countries.

“Also, if it wasn’t for the huge deposits inflows by Lebanese expats to Lebanon, our country would have faced a social and economic disaster long time ago,” he said.

Meanwhile, Adnan Kassar, president of the General Union of Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture for Arab Countries, spoke about the objective of the conference saying that it aims at strengthening economic ties between Lebanese expatriates in Arab and foreign countries.

“Lebanese expats have always shown their strong commitment to Lebanon through their investments in the country,” he said.

Meanwhile, Nicolas Chammas, head of Beirut Traders Association, emphasized the need for expatriates to invest in productive sectors in Lebanon and not only in the banking industry

Source: The Daily Star

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