Seklaoui: Despite precarious situation the net revenue of national treasury from tobacco sector in 2018 is around 440 billion L.L.

11 December 2018
Unveiling an agreement to be signed with the international firm of BAT in order to manufacture its brands in Lebanon
Seklaoui: Despite precarious situation the net revenue of national treasury from tobacco sector in 2018 is around 440 billion L.L. 

the Regie now manufactures 19 international brands along with the 9 local brands

The Regie's President and General Director Mr. Nassif Seklaoui expected yesterday that  the net revenue of national treasury from tobacco sector during the current year would reach around 440 billion L.L. "despite the precarious situation". He revealed that the Regie will soon sign an agreement with the British American Tobacco BAT in order to manufacture its brands in the Regie's plants, equally with other agreements concluded with other international companies. He indicated that the Regie now manufactures 19 international brands along with its 9 local brands.

Siklaoui was speaking during the annual dinner of international companies and Head of Sales that the Regie organized in Seaside Front, Beirut in the presence of the President of the High Council of Customs, Brigadier General Asaad AlTufaili, the Director General of the Ministry of Finance Mr. Alain Biffani, the Director General of Customs Mr. Badri Daher, the Director General of the Ministry of Economy Mrs. Alia Abbas, the Director General of the Cadastre Bureau Mr. Georges AlMaaraoui, Members of the Regie's Board; Messrs. Georges Hobeika, Mazen Abboud, and Dr. Issam Salman, General Directors of  several companies and banks, and several Head of Sales.

During the dinner Seklaoui said that the Regie had tried during a whole year of hardworking to overcome many challenges and to play against the odds of economic indicators". He added: "despite the precarious situation, the Regie was able to be one of the main sources of the National Treasury, as it is expected that the net revenue of the national treasury from tobacco sector during the current year to reach around 440 billion L.L."

He added that the Regie had also tried to "paly against the odds of global trends", noting that "international decisions are heading toward radical changes in the tobacco sector". "Are these decisions are taking into account the specificity of each country, and is Lebanon ready to lose the tax revenues generated by this sector? Can price policies be adopted and can smuggling markets be regulated under open borders?", he asked.
He added: "These challenges and risks put us in front of strategic options and different directions in managing this sector. Thanks to the vision, planning, and sponsorship of the Ministry of Finance, represented by the Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, the confidence of our clients, and the capabilities of our employees we were able to pursue the path of growth and to achieve more success in the economic, developmental, and humanitarian fields. "

He pointed out that the Regie is currently manufacturing international brands in its local plants, recalling the agreements that were signed with Philip Morris, JTI and Imperial Tobacco. He announced that the Regie will soon sign an agreement with British American Tobacco: "thus we had to increase our production capacity by 2018 to twelve production lines instead of five. In this manner the Regie , along with its nine local brands, will be manufacturing 19 international brands," he said. 
Considering that the manufacture of "foreign" brands, "undoubtedly reduces the smuggling rate, which deprives the Lebanese treasury of many revenues and take a toll on it", he stressed that "this is not enough to eradicate this phenomenon that the Regie prioritizes its combat . He ensured that the "Reggie has moved to tackle illegal trade on different levels", recalling the Anti-Illicit Trade Conference organized earlier this year as  "unprecedented in Lebanon". He added that "this conference, which included more than 600 participants from 20 Arab and foreign countries was of an international level and a historical moment".

He recalled as well "the role played by the heads of sales in the fight against the smuggling of tobacco products", pointing out that the Regie sought in coordination with the Ministry of Finance to meet their demand "in terms of imposing direct income tax similarly to the value added tax". He asserted that "filling a draft law before the Prime Ministry and following it up with relevant parties is waiting the government to be formed".

He pointed out that "during 2018 the Regie had kept up with its social role offering 45 developmental contributions to the villages  involved in tobacco farming in the North, Bekaa, and South. In total, the contributions reached 178 municipalities, which included the construction of agricultural roads; digging water pools; and providing ambulances, public gardens, sports fields, social halls, and public libraries".

Seklaoui said that the Regie's achievements are "not a coincidence but the result of a vision", which is "the outcome of a sustainable process and an outlined plan that has no place for improvising". "It is the result of the confidence provided by the Ministry of Finance in the person of Minister Ali Hassan Khalil". "What we have achieved is the result of a long-term commitment that we reconfirm today by developing the Regie on each level and improving its position among  world leading companies". He added: "What we have achieved is the result of the commitment to remain a main contributor to the State's treasury in all circumstances and a solid backup to tobacco farmers and their towns all over Lebanon. It is the result of our determination to be a role model in promoting our national institutions and making them a source of pride".

Mr. Elias Al-Laoun spoke on behalf of Heads of Sales; he applauded the Regie for "the big achievement it made this year in boosting the national industrial sector and manufacturing foreign  brands in Lebanon". He considered that the event " gives cause for pride". "Shall the upcoming year be the year of launching national cigarettes with quality and taste and manufacturing for foreign markets which would allow the Regie to become an international organization, similarly to large companies."
The Director of Public Relations Mrs. Nahla Slim had made a welcoming speech in which she pointed that the Regie has built with companies and shareholders a "relation of respect and trust  based on professionalism, transparency, and ethics". She stressed, as well, that this relation relies on "vision and achievement" on which "the Regie hold tight".
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