Mawlawi’s Visit to the Regie: Pledging State Support for Its Farmer-Centric Approach

11 February 2024
Mawlawi’s Visit to the Regie: Pledging State Support for Its Farmer-Centric Approach

Projected Treasury Share: Around USD 270 Million of Regie Revenues for 2023

During his visit to the Lebanese Regie for Tobacco, Minister of Interior and Municipalities, Judge Bassam Mawlawi, affirmed the commitment of the Lebanese state to support the Regie’s endeavors, stating, “the Lebanese state will provide whatever it can” to facilitate the Regie’s continued success.  He praised the Regie’s way of “dealing with farmers, emphasizing that this approach makes them able to keep going.” Meanwhile, the President – Director General of the Regie, Eng. Nassif Seklaoui, expected that the Lebanese treasury would receive approximately USD270 million in revenues from the Regie in 2023. He adamantly opposed any measures that would jeopardize the livelihoods of 25,000 farmers, declaring, “we refuse to eliminate their source of livelihood without offering viable alternatives, whether due to international pressures or any other reasons.”
After meeting with Seklaoui in his office, Mawlawi conducted a comprehensive tour of the various departments within the Regie and reviewed their operations. Subsequently, a general meeting was held attended by notable figures including the Governor of Mount Lebanon, Judge Muhammad Makkawi, the Mayor of Hadath, Mr. George Aoun, members of the Management Committee, the President of Tobacco Farmers Syndicate, Mr. Hassan Fakih, representatives of foreign companies and the Ministry of Finance.


Seklaoui welcomed Mawlawi as "an open-minded, self-made statesman operating quietly and diligently behind the scenes. He devotes himself entirely to the task at hand, tirelessly advocating for the security services to fulfill their national duties amidst challenging economic, political and social circumstances.”

Highlighting a prevalent misconception, Seklaoui emphasized, “there is a common belief that public institutions in Lebanon don’t achieve success, and any accomplishments, if any, are attributed solely to the private or privatized sectors.” He underlined, “the Regie, through tangible evidence and a track record of achievements, has debunked this notion, showcasing that public institutions can indeed be modern, productive and dynamic.”

He pointed out: “A prime illustration of our success lies in our pioneering achievements: we are the first public institution to attain global acclaim for upholding top-tier quality standards such as ISO 9001, and prioritizing  occupational health and safety with ISO 45001 certification. Additionally, we stand as the first public entity to consistently generate substantial revenues for the state treasury, notwithstanding the pervasive issue of smuggling. Moreover, we lead in implementing a comprehensive sustainable development plan that caters to the entirety of the Lebanese society, with a particular focus on municipalities and farmers. This initiative encompasses the enhancement of agricultural communities, the eradication of child labor, the optimization of energy consumption and waste management. Collaborating with municipalities, we’ve successfully implemented over 246 development project across Akkar, the South, and the Bekaa.

He also evoked how the Regie took the pioneering step of organizing a world-class national conference to combat smuggling in Lebanon, demonstrating unwavering dedication to curbing this illicit activity. In 2023 alone, the Anti-Smuggling Unit compiled 228 arrest reports, resulting in fines totaling 213,360,447,000 LL. and the confiscation of 78 tons of smuggled tobacco materials.

Furthermore, he acknowledged the support extended by Prime Minister Nabih Berri and the Ministry of Finance in providing assistance and care. Concluding with a plea for continued support, he expressed hope and reliance on the collaboration with Mawlawi and the security services.

He elaborated on the multifaceted operations of the Regie, highlighting its industrial, agricultural and commercial dimensions. Industrially, the Regie operates 15 production lines, manufacturing over 60 varieties of tobacco, both domestic and international. Agriculturally, the tobacco sector serves as a vital lifeline supporting 25,000 families, fostering economic activity in rural areas, and providing stability to farming communities. Commercially, the Regie engages with a network of 800 suppliers, facilitating employment for a significant workforce and contributing to the creation of sustainable job opportunities, thus bolstering the economy.

He stated that "the tobacco sector in Lebanon generates annual sales revenues of $657 million, with an anticipated share for the Lebanese treasury share for the year 2023 amounting to $270 million."

Furthermore, he addressed remarks made during the World Health Organization conference regarding the existence of a tobacco lobby, affirming, “Yes, we are indeed a lobby and we take pride in that fact. We are a lobby dedicated to safeguarding the livelihoods of 25,000 tumbac and tobacco farmers. We refuse to accept any measures that would abruptly eliminate their means of sustenance, whether due to international pressure or any reasons, without offering viable alternatives.”
He noted that "there is a misconception regarding the approach to addressing decisions issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), primarily affecting countries with strong economies and minimal smuggling rates, often less than  1 or 2 percent."

Seklaoui concluded by hoping to strengthen "the collaborative ties between the Regie and the security services, aiming to implement rigorous controls and combat all forms of smuggling effectively."


Mawlawi then gave a speech in which he described he Regie as “a thriving  institution built on principles of faith, effective management, and fruitful partnerships with the private sector, resulting in prosperity, service, and  better productivity across various areas, marking continuous achievements for this establishment.”

He emphasized "the undeniable success of this institution in production, organization, transparent management, and clean practices," underscoring his firsthand observation during the visit. He reiterated that it stands as an “exemplar of successful administration, untainted by corruption."

He added: “Our journey, as you are all aware, is dedicated to nurturing a resilient, steadfast, and prosperous nation, and the accomplishments you have achieved stand as a shining example of an exemplary public institution. While there may be few public institutions currently meeting this standard, yours undeniably serves as a beacon of excellence; throughout various difficult  periods, whether in times of conflict or economic hardship, this institution has not only endured but thrived. It has demonstrated remarkable resilience, consistently expanding its infrastructure, advancing its operations, increasing its contributions to the state, all while safeguarding the interests of its workers and farmers. This resilience, above all, is commendable.” 


He paid tribute to the symbol of resilience, the tobacco seedling, and honored the steadfast Lebanese farmer who remains resolute in their commitment to their land. He commended the farmers in the South, who, despite enduring challenging circumstances, including the ravages of war, steadfastly cling to their land, nurturing it as a testament of victory.”

He remarked that “the unwavering commitment of farmers across Lebanon, particularly in the South and Akkar, represents an invaluable asset, enriching your administration. Your approach enables them to endure and persevere. The support provided by your administration extends not only to this institution but to every individual associated with or benefiting from it. It is a gesture of gratitude and appreciation from the Lebanese state.”

He added: “We can’t help but acknowledge your achievements and pledge that the Lebanese state will spare no effort in building upon your successes, ensuring that you remain a shining example of achievement and prosperity. Here, at the Ministry of Interior, we stand ready to support the Regie’s Anti-Smuggling Unit with all available logistical and financial resources, providing  material and any other assistance required.”

Emphasizing the Ministry of Interior’s commitment, he reiterated, “our Ministry is steadfast and growing; we are proud to stand beside you, just as you stand with Lebanon and its farmers. We value your collaboration with all the municipalities prioritizing agriculture and the preservation of Lebanese agricultural heritage and steadfastness on their land."

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