Central Bank promises incentives for lenders
Key bankers say sector stable despite all
The Central Bank (BDL) is working on a set of measures to encourage banks to lend the private sector, Governor Riad Salameh told a group of bankers and businesspersons at the Lebanese Economic Forum on Friday (November 30). Incentives will focus on housing loans and on financing productive sectors and renewable energy schemes.
Banks had been offering subsidized housing loans supported by the BDL, for more than two years. But some banks stopped extending new loans lately, after consuming the quota allocated to them by the BDL.
Salameh said the banking sector has maintained stability over the past months. He said the BDL will work to keep interest rates at their current levels.
Salameh said that the deficit of payments is expected to reach as high as $2 billion by the end of the year. However, he said, “this deficit is due to higher fuel imports and is not the result of an outflow of deposits.”
Mazen Soueid, head of research at BankMed, said deposits in banks total around 300 percent of the nominal GDP, one of the highest rates worldwide. “The majority of deposits are by Lebanese residents and expatriates, which makes it less likely for them to flee (in turbulent times),” he said.
Nasib Ghobril, chief researcher at Byblos Bank, cited some challenges facing operations of local banks. He said the Arab revolts have reduced expansion opportunities in Arab countries: “There were also lost opportunities due to sanctions on banking activities in Syria.”
Date Posted: Nov 30, 2012