The president of the Lebanese Syndicate of Restaurants, Cafés, Amusement Parks, and Patisseries, Toni Al-Rami, announced in a statement that the number of shutdown institutions dealing with food and drink has now reached 785 establishments.
These were reported closing down between September 1st, 2019, and February 1st, 2020. January 2020 alone counted the shutdown of 240 institutions throughout Lebanon.
The syndicate added in the statement: “Mount Lebanon Governorate witnessed a closing rate of 54.6%, which is the highest for the year 2019, followed by Beirut, where the percentage reached 29.4%, then the North Governorate by 6.7%, then the South Governorate by 6.6%, and finally the Bekaa by 2.5%.”
The number of employees released from their jobs exceeded 25,000 in that sector only.
Today, a large percentage of the workers that have remained working are either part-time or half-salaried, due to the decrease in sales by 75%.
Al-Rami explained that the purchase of raw materials from suppliers is made on the dollar exchange rate of the black market at 2500 LBP for one dollar.
That is happening when the owners of institutions are still adopting the official dollar exchange rate of 1515 LBP in their dealings with their customers without an increase in prices.
He stressed that the catering sector lost three primary factors of work and individual growth: liquidity, purchasing power, and psychological relief.
Al-Rami proceeded to explain that “this matter makes investors barely able to fulfill the minimum obligations of their employees, in one hand, and suppliers, on the other hand.”
Owners find themselves paying 50% of their establishment’s profit for lease contracts without paying any kind of other dues for their institutions, and that in order to buy time and to maintain a little continuity.
The syndicate pointed out that “some of the owners decided to form an economic resistance, while other owners, due to the current crisis, are led to selling their trademarks abroad without conditions or restrictions, to ensure that the institutions remain open in the homeland as well as to preserve their workers.”
Al-Rami addressed revolutionaries saying, “To the honorable revolutionaries; many restaurants have put their kitchens at the disposal of the squares throughout the revolution and in the right demands.”
He urged politicians to stay away from any provocation that could jeopardize the few remaining institutions because of the actions and reactions of any party.
This, he also added, would prevent the embarrassment of the owner, workers, and pioneers, especially in these exceptional circumstances.
The syndicate revealed that it is expecting “the government to present a project and an action plan that commensurates with the current situation to keep pace with future financial plans and engineering.”
It also urged the government to instruct banks to reschedule dues with the provision of exemptions and tax adjustments and reduce interest and installment loans.
Al-Rami concluded, “We are asking everyone to work seriously to bring the nation ship back to safety,” stressing that the syndicate “will remain similar to a captain in a ship trying to save what is left to create lifeboats carrying colleagues to safety, despite the certainty that the crisis also exceeds the tourism sector as a whole.”
The Kalei Coffee, which image we previously included in this article to depict restaurants in general, is opened and running well. We’ve made the adjustment accordingly to clear off any misunderstanding.