The Association of Banks in Lebanon published the following press release:
The Association’s members oppose the campaign attacking the banking sector that is now being treated as a scapegoat every time the politicians in Lebanon resort to these allegations when the financial and economic crisis intensifies. Maybe those leaning over the sector have forgotten some facts that we think must be reminded:
1- It is not the banks that have intended to affirm the fixation of the rate of the national currency in every ministerial statement for nearly 30 years to date.
2- It was not the banks that were urging the state to borrow from the money deposited in the Central Bank.
3- It is not the banks that used to issue the decisions and laws of Treasury advances that were never returned to the central account.
4- It was not the banks that set the frameworks for subsidy policies or spending on the energy sector, as in other sectors.
5- It was not the banks that hindered the issuance of Capital Control laws, nor did they decide to issue Eurobonds.
6- Thanks to the banks, the state was able to provide salaries for all categories of the public sector.
7- Banks used to pay the highest percentage of the tax collection annually in favor of the public Treasury.
8- Banks preserved Lebanon’s presence and its international reputation. Isn’t it surprising that some politicians are calling on the world to boycott Lebanese banks, as if they are seeking to cut the financial communication between Lebanon and the world, which constitutes a real danger to the interests of Lebanon and the Lebanese? And for whom?
9- It was not the banks that set waste policies and approved irresponsible tax and Custom policies, nor are they the ones who issued random employment decisions in the states, nor are they the ones who have accumulated the deficit in the balance of payments, nor are they the ones withholding the state’s economic vision and proper planning.
10- It was not the banks that organized, managed and benefited from the massive smuggling of subsidized goods at the expense of the small number of needy citizens.
Blaming the banks for the current crisis is categorically refused. Residents and expatriates benefited from the benefits they received as a result of investing money in Treasury bonds, knowing that bank reserves have always respected international accounting standards, and their profits approached 10 percent of their own funds, which remains the lowest percentage in the Arab region and does not exceed 1 percent of the assets.
It is worth mentioning that the net funds distributed to shareholders amounted to between 3% and 5% of the value of their contributions, less than what ordinary depositors receive.
Banks have been a catalyst for the economy through the real estate, commercial and industrial sectors, by granting housing and personal loans, and commercial and industrial loans that often exceeded the capital of these same companies, not to mention the loans granted to educational and university institutions and social institutions. The banks that are currently victims of a smear campaign have never failed in their national role, as they reinvested most of their rightful profits in the Lebanese economic cycle.
Banks are always committed to the right of depositors to obtain their savings, and they confirm that once the state returns the funds borrowed from the Central Banks, they will be able to directly return the rights to their owners. However, this requires the formation of a scientifically homogenous government that sets a rational and feasible plan that will be a basis for negotiation with the International Monetary Fund and allow the liberalization of aid and investments.
Finally, the political crisis and the disruption and emptiness caused remain the main cause of the financial and banking crisis in Lebanon.
Communication & PR Department