BEIRUT: The number of permits to establish industrial plants issued in the second half of 2013 reached 205 compared to 169 in the same period of 2012, according to a report issued Friday by the industrial information department at the Industry Ministry.
December witnessed the release of 41 permits which is the highest in 2013 compared to only 22 in July of the same year.
The report did not say who obtained the new permits although there are indications that Syrian businessmen fleeing their war-ravaged country have made some investments in Lebanon’s industrial sector.
During the first quarter of 2013, Industry Minister Vreij Sabounjian announced that Syrian industrialists were queuing up to establish factories in Lebanon.
“At least a dozen Syrian investors have applied for industrial plant licenses in Lebanon with millions of dollars to be invested in the next three years,” Sabounjian said, adding that applications had been received during 2012.
The minister said the planned factories would cover industries such as metal works, furniture, machinery and beverages. The plants would be mainly located in the Bekaa Valley region and areas surrounding Beirut.
However, Sabounjian also noted in March 2013 that he had received complaints about several Syrian investors – particularly those who had come to operate smaller, labor-intensive plants – who had failed to apply for permits or register staff at the National Social Security Fund.
Moreover, complaints from business associations including merchants, and more recently industrialists, have increased in intensity since reports emerged of a new wave of illegal businesses being established in Beirut and the outskirts of the capital.
But Sabounjian said in an interview with The Daily Star late last year that his ministry wasn’t aware of any illegal factories or workshops operating on the outskirts of Beirut and would immediately take action to crack down on violators if that was the case.
According to Friday’s report, establishment licenses ranked the highest at 37.6 percent, most of which belong to the third category (45 licenses), followed by licenses for industrial establishment and investments at 25.4 percent, most of which belong to the fourth category (38 licenses).
According to a classification by the Industry Ministry, factories that have a limited negative impact on the environment belong to the third category while businesses that have a small negative environmental impact belong to the fourth category.
The report added that 40 percent of permits were given to factories that belong to the fourth category, followed by 38.5 percent given to factories in the third category.
The report noted that 57.1 percent of the permits covered the area of Mount Lebanon, followed by the Bekaa valley region at 16.6 percent and south Lebanon at 11.7 percent.
It added that the share of the permits for agro-food industries was the highest at 24.4 percent, followed by permits for the construction materials industry at 16.1 percent and mineral and electronics industries at 8.3 percent.