Central Bank vice governor: Lebanon rating safe
Mohamad Zaatari| The Daily Star / December 7, 2015
BEIRUT: The Lebanese pound remains stable said BDL’s First Vice Governor Raed Charafeddine over the weekend while ruling out any further downgrade of Lebanon by international rating agencies. “The Lebanese pound is stable and there is no monetary crisis in Lebanon; also, there is no reason for rating agencies to downgrade the outlook of Lebanon,” he said during a meeting held by the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture in Saida with bankers and traders.
Charafeddine said that BDL has been capable of maintaining exchange rate stability of the Lebanese pound with the support of its foreign currency reserves which have reached $39 billion in addition to its high level of gold reserves.
“Moreover, the central bank was capable of maintaining stable levels of interest rates while securing funding for the private and public sectors whereby financial inclusion reached 47 percent in Lebanon compared to 18 percent in Arab countries.”
He added that BDL succeeded in managing an excess in liquidity of over $16 billion by issuing certificates of deposits and encouraging lending activities in Lebanese pound.
Charafeddine said that BDL launched since 2013 incentive packages amounting to $5 billion which contributed to around 50 percent of the growth registered in the years 2013 and 2014.
“BDL launched its incentives initiatives by lending to the public sector and SMEs in a bid to invest in productive sectors, environment, education and real estate sectors which contributes in creating more job opportunities,” he said. “This led to an increase in residential loans to over 100,000 while educational loans reached 50,000,” he added.
He said that BDL has lately made a decision to launch a new incentive package in 2016 amounting to $1 billion in a bid to overcome economic and social challenges in the country and their negative impact on growth which is expected to stand at 0 percent this year.
Charafeddine added that BDL was keen to implement the principles of good governance while protecting consumers by creating a special unit for this purpose at the central bank.
“BDL is also implementing international rules of anti-money laundering and terrorism funding in addition to issuing circulars that are necessary to prevent the entry of illegal money to the local market,” he said.