Dire economic conditions in the country are taking their toll on the hospitality industry, as 265 restaurants closed permanently in the last two months.
The news coincided with the private sector’s announcement of a three-day strike to protest the economic deterioration and a lack of political will to form a Cabinet to address the problems engulfing the country since anti-government protests erupted on Oct. 17.
According to a statement from the syndicate of restaurant owners, 265 institutions in the restaurant and food catering business closed down due to the prevailing conditions.
The syndicate warned that another 200 restaurants were expected to close by the end of this month, bringing the total number to 465.
It blamed the government for the poor performance of the restaurant industry, noting that taxes and a sharp drop in the purchasing power of the Lebanese had made things much worse.
The syndicate called for a series of measures to alleviate the sufferings of the restaurant owners, including a reduction in rents.
The restaurant closures are just one example of the decline in business activity across nearly all sectors. Companies have laid off most of their staff or cut salaries by half to cope with the drop.
The statement added that owners usually looked forward to the upcoming festive season to increase their profit margins, but that so far the situation seemed to be getting worse. It encouraged the ruling political class to “be responsible” and form a government that would improve the living conditions and economic situation of all.
As Lebanon is almost purely a service-sector-centric economy, the situation is troubling to say the very least, the syndicate added.
Separately the Economic Committees, a group that represents business owners and private sector leaders, declared a three-day strike for this Thursday, Friday and Saturday (Nov. 28-30).
It called on all private-sector enterprises to participate.
The body added that the strike aimed to pressure the government to respond to the aspirations of the Lebanese and restore confidence in the economy.
It said the escalation would continue until a new government had been formed, and that it would announce successive steps for the coming few days.
The body said it would keep its meeting schedule open in order to follow developments and take decisions to preserve Lebanon, its people, its economy and its institutions.
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