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Choucair blasts plan to raise real estate taxes

File - President of the Chamber of Commerce Mohammad Choucair speaks in Beirut, Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: President of the Chamber of Commerce Mohammad Choucair vowed Wednesday to fight against anyone trying to increase barriers on real estate, referring in particular to the government’s proposed hike in real estate fines and taxes.

These remarks came after a meeting for real estate moguls to discuss the challenges facing the sector and methods to revive the industry.

At the meeting the industry vowed to fight against any moves to restrict investment in real estate, referring in particular to the government’s proposed hike in real estate fines and taxes.

Those present at the event, held at the chamber’s headquarters, included Bilal Hamad, mayor of Beirut; Elie Souma, head of Lebanon’s Syndicate of Real Estate Developers and Brokers; and real estate developer Namir Cortas, alongside other prominent industry representatives.

In light of several blows to the sector, Choucair called for a real estate rescue strategy that would stimulate the economy.

According to Choucair, statistics from 2013 “showed that the real estate transactions sector has dropped from $11 billion to about $7 billion,” adding that the apparent decline is the consequence of a prolonged absence on the part of Gulf tourists and investors, as well as expat entrepreneurs.

Choucair expressed hopes that the new caretaker government and the lifting of Saudi Arabia’s travel advisory would lead to a “dynamic that would revive the Lebanese economy and the growth of the sector.”

Souma highlighted the decrease in the number of real estate developers and brokers, citing a plunge from 1,400 developers to about 800. The syndicate head also condemned the government’s proposed taxes, saying such measures would increase burdens on the sector.

Cortas called on members of the meeting to form a pressure group capable of pushing a campaign to save the real estate industry and prevent the implementation of any new taxes. He added that “a consistent increase in tariffs would constitute a negative component for the investor who is concerned with tax consistency and the security of his investments.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 12, 2014, on page 5.

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Summary

President of the Chamber of Commerce Mohammad Choucair vowed Wednesday to fight against anyone trying to increase barriers on real estate, referring in particular to the government's proposed hike in real estate fines and taxes.

At the meeting the industry vowed to fight against any moves to restrict investment in real estate, referring in particular to the government's proposed hike in real estate fines and taxes.

In light of several blows to the sector, Choucair called for a real estate rescue strategy that would stimulate the economy.


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