BEIRUT: Lebanon’s tobacco sector revenues are expected to soar by $145 million in 2012, the head of the state-owned tobacco monopoly said, adding that significant investments in manufacturing would happen this year.
“The revenues of the sector in 2007 were $230 million but soared to $482 million in 2011, and we expect it to reach $627 million in 2012,” said Nassif Seklawi, head of the Lebanese Tobacco Board.
The board is a state-run monopoly in charge of the exporting and importing all tobacco products as well as a long-established tobacco subsidy program for farmers. Board’s finances are directly linked to the public treasury.
“Wise tobacco taxation policies implemented by the Finance Ministry have lead to increasing the sector’s revenues and avert the bad experiences we have seen in the past,” he said.
Saklawi’s statement came as he and Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi opened a power-generation unit at the board’s headquarters in Hadath.
He said the company has improved significantly, vowing to match standards similar to those of international tobacco companies.
“We are preparing to launch a 1.8 million euro ($2.35 million) tobacco-rolling line, and we will launch a tender for a new tobacco sorting factory in Bikfaya in the upcoming weeks,” he said, adding a contribution from Japan Tobacco International would cover a part of financing the new projects.
He said the board would start receiving tobacco produce from farmers by the end of October.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 19, 2012, on page 5.