BEIRUT: President of the Chamber of Commerce Mohammad Choucair held a meeting for real estate moguls Wednesday to discuss the challenges facing the sector and methods to revive the industry.
At the meeting the industry vowed to fight against anyone trying to increase barriers against 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 representatives from the industry’s largest firms.
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 garnered in 2013 “showed that the [value of the] real estate sector has dropped from 11 billion dollars to about 7 billion.” Choucair added 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 lift of Saudi Arabia’s travel ban would lead to a “dynamic that would revive the Lebanese economy and the growth of the [real estate] sector.”
Souma highlighted the decrease in the amount of real estate developers and brokers, citing a drastic plunge from 1400 developers to about 800. The syndicate head also condemned the government’s proposed taxes on the industry, stressing that such measures would increase the burdens of the trade.
Hamad pointed out measures implemented by the municipality in reviving the sector, pointing out the achieved decrease in the value of real estate as well as a decline in renting prices in Beirut.
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.”