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Diverging views towards Syrian business enterprises displaced to the Beqaa


Outgoing Minister of Social Affairs, Wael Abou Faour stated that there is a need to curb the number of infringements caused by the “illegal economic competition” by the “377 or so non authorized economic establishments set up by Syrians in mid and west Bekaa and in Rashaya. Abou Faour’s statement came during a meeting that was held on last Monday, following a previous meeting held last week, at the Zahleh Serail which was headed by the governor of the Bekaa, Mr. Antoine Suleiman.  The latter gave Syrian small businesses an ultimatum till August 15th to regularize their situation and secure proper authorization otherwise they will risk being closed past that deadline.  The deadline seemingly was subsequently extended until the end of August after consultation with General Security and given the time needed to officially inform those concerned and allow them sufficient time to formalise their situation.  Past that date, any business that will open without proper licensing will be promptly closed with internal security providing back up when needed.

A mapping carried out by the directorate of state security indicated that there is a variety of businesses now set up by Syrians in the regions of middle and west Beqaa including restaurants. bakeries, groceries, clothes shops, street vending in addition to electronics and repairs, small industries, hair salons and other types of businesses most of which tend to be concentrated along the international road to Damascus between Shtoura and Masnaa and in all areas with a high density of Syrian displaced.

It is to be noted that the decision to regularize Syrian businesses was welcomed by heads of municipalities especially since Lebanese businesses have been complaining about the competition caused.  Municipalities also noted the responsibilities of citizens who are renting premises without duly registering the lease contracts with the municipality.

On another matter related to the influx of Syrian labor and its impact on the Lebanese economy, a report by World Vision entitled “Under Pressure” and which addresses the impact of the influx of Syrian labor, indicated that Syrian displaced people are getting into more diversified economic sector with an increase in Syrian women labor.  According to the WV report, the impact is largely felt by the poorer segments of the population either because of increases in prices, economic competition or, according to the report, to the transfer of social assistance and charitable aid (welfare, fuel, education and health) towards poor displaced Syrians.

On the other hand, Al Safir newspaper published a report on Moday, about the emerging Syrian factories in the Bekaa the majority of which, it seems, enjoy a legal status and were set up according to local rules and regulations.  In fact, many of these factory owners are baffled by the current campaigns against Syrian labor which has existed in this country for decades.  According to the same sources, all factories register their Syrian workers.  New coming Syrian workers are a minority compared to their Lebanese counterparts who handle the upper end of the work including marketing.  Holders of small businesses also maintain that their businesses are too small to cause any kind of meaningful competition.  Many noted the current paradox whereby officials in Lebanon call out for foreign investments whilst at the same time verbally attacking Syrian businesses.
Source: Al-Nahar, Al-Safir, Al-Diyar 30 July 2013

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