Lebanon bank deposits up 4% on year

Lebanon Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh expects economic growth in 2018 to be 2 percent. (AFP)
Updated 15 November 2018
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Lebanon bank deposits up 4% on year

BEIRUT: Bank deposits in Lebanon have risen by 4 percent on the year, Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh said on Thursday, and he maintained his economic growth outlook for 2018 at 2 percent.

In July Salameh had said he expected bank deposits to grow by more than 5 percent in 2018.

In October the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) halved their growth outlook to one percent for Lebanon, where public debt is about 150 percent of gross domestic product.

“Lebanese banks have succeeded in maintaining foreign exchange inflows into their sector supported by (the central bank),” Salmeh said in a televised speech at a Beirut economic conference.

With growth low and traditional sources of foreign exchange — tourism, real estate and foreign investment — undermined by years of regional tension, Lebanon increasingly relies on dollars expatriate Lebanese deposit in local banks.

The banks buy government debt, which finances the country’s eye-watering public debt and twin deficits.

The central bank also brings in dollars through complex financial operations with local banks to boost foreign currency reserves needed to defend the Lebanese pound’s peg to the dollar.

However, deposits have been growing at a slower rate since war broke out in neighboring Syria in 2011, and deposit growth rates are closely watched.


UN Syria envoy to host top envoys from Russia, Turkey, Iran

Updated 6 min 10 sec ago
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UN Syria envoy to host top envoys from Russia, Turkey, Iran

  • The talks scheduled for Tuesday in Geneva will likely be one of Staffan de Mistura’s last meetings with major players in the Syrian conflict

GENEVA: The outgoing UN envoy for Syria will meet top diplomats from Iran, Russia and Turkey this week, his office said Monday, in a final bid to make headway toward a new Syrian constitution.
The talks scheduled for Tuesday in Geneva will likely be one of Staffan de Mistura’s last meetings with major players in the Syrian conflict, as the veteran UN diplomat is due to step down in the coming days.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov will attend, a spokesperson from his office said.
A Turkish diplomatic source told AFP that Ankara’s top envoy Mevlut Cavusoglu will be in Geneva along with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
The UN did not immediately confirm the list of attendees.
The planned constitutional committee was agreed at a Russia-hosted conference in January.
The centerpiece of UN peace efforts in Syria, the committee would be tasked with negotiating a new post-war constitution that would pave the way to elections aimed at turning the page on seven years of devastating war.
But it has run into objections from the Syrian government.
The opposition has pushed for an entirely new constitution, but Damascus has said it will only discuss altering the current one.
In October, Damascus rejected a list presented by de Mistura of 50 civil society representatives and technical experts.