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Lebanon: 70% of Deposits in USD Despite High-Interest Rates on LBP

Lebanon: 70% of Deposits in USD Despite High-Interest Rates on LBP

Thursday, 13 December, 2018 - 11:45
A woman walks outside of Lebanon's Central Bank building in Beirut, Lebanon March 16, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Banking sector indices fell below the growth forecast for the current year, beating the effectiveness of incentives to raise interest rates by twice the average interest rates on saving deposits in Lebanese pounds and the US dollar.

Total deposits of customers (from the private and public sectors) in the Lebanese banking sector increased by 2.3% on an annual basis to reach 177.5 billion dollars at the end of October.

It has become difficult to reach a total growth rate of 4 to 5 percent during the last two months, as it was previously expected.

This indicator is a reference to measure the ability of banking resources to finance the state’s financial needs, through treasury bills in LBP and international debt securities in USD.

It was also noted that the pace of conversion from the pound to the dollar continued, as highlighted by some banking reports. Although interest rates on LBP deposits have been raised to attractive levels ranging from 10 to 15 or even 20 percent for specific offers, in addition to other conditions and incentives, banking reports showed an increased dollarization trend in private sector deposits that reached 69.5% at the end of the third quarter of this year, compared to 66.9% last year, starting with 68.72% at the beginning of the current year.

The banks’ consolidated capital accounts exceeded $20 billion in 10 months, an increase of 7.4 percent from the same period last year. This is due in particular to the banks’ recourse to strengthening their own capital to remain committed to the Basel Committee and the Central Bank of Lebanon’s criteria for capital adequacy ratios.

On the other hand, there have been signs of a decline in funding the private sector. Lebanese banks lending to the private sector (residents and nonresidents) declined by 0.89 percent, equivalent to about half a billion dollars.

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