The situation in some of the war-torn Arab countries suffering from conflicts of various forms made their economies record extreme negative indicators- an event that will affect the stability of the whole region.
These events were accompanied by fluctuations in the international economy during the last years and all these factors triggered major problems in the global market.
In these complex circumstances, Lebanon, the non-petroleum state, continued working steadily to raise its economic prospects through reliance on available resources and in tandem with the effective and agile private sector whose contribution to the economic cycle reached up to 75% of the total order. With financial support from the Lebanese private banking sector and despite all the various local and regional challenges, the indicators show positive signs in the Lebanese economy for the year 2017 with the possibility of achieving an economic growth up to 2.5% compared to 2% in the year 2016. This rebound in economic growth is, however, accompanied by an augmented public governmental debt which amounted to 74.9 billion US Dollars at the end of 2016, and the deficit amounted to 4.9 billion US Dollars. Yet, all these aforementioned stringent conditions did not prohibit Central Bank of Lebanon from maintaining a resilient policy to support the Lebanese State Economy. It should be noted here that Central Bank of Lebanon through its prudent monetary policies, is regarded as an important guarantee which is highly trusted on both, the national level and on the level of Arab financial institutions as well as other international bodies.
the Lebanese banking sector maintained its distinguished performance where the assets of the Lebanese banks at the end of the year 2016 amounted to 204 billion US Dollars scoring an average growth of 10% accompanied by an increase in the private sector deposits by a proportion of 7.2% to reach the amount of 162.29 billion US Dollars. This data affirms the positive role played by the Lebanese banks in the local economy.
North Africa Commercial Bank S.A.L. continued to adopt a conservative policy, and despite its modest capital, it was able, between the year 2011 and the end of 2016, to realize cumulative profits of 74 million US Dollars capital adequacy ratio of 17.5%, and an increase in the shareholders equity by an amount of 45 million US Dollars, with distribution of profit to the shareholders of 31 million US Dollars. The attached reports and analysis for the financial year ended on 31/12/2016, show complete details, and the bank will proceed its activities in this manner pursuant to the principle of maintaining the stability and quality of its assets in the first place.
We have reached a firm conviction that the consolidation of capital bases pertaining to Arab and regional banks and the development of these capital funds according to contemporary requirements and making them effective ultimately starts with the medium and small banks and is considered the first step for the banking sector at this stage. Accordingly, and from within the Lebanese banking sector we have constantly called upon stakeholders to be aware of these important risks which we indicated and which are mentioned in many reports issued by the international specialized institutions, consultancy offices, and other financial and economic reports published through the mass media for many years. These publications incorporated obvious warnings that focus principally on the difficulty of small banks and institutions to thrive in a highly developed and competitive future environment. Accordingly, the decision of the Board of Directors of our Bank since the year 2012 always emphasized the need to adopt the principle of alliance and mergers with one or some banks in Lebanon, as it is the ideal choice and the only option for the small banks to confront the upcoming changes in the banking industry.
We are all aware that the wars taking place in our region imposed very hard financial, economic and political conditions, which caused a dangerous social situation for the people, and as result, the region is in dire need of radical solutions that lead to the stability and creation of comprehensive vision to tackle such situation before it is too late.
The financial institutions will be entrusted with advanced tasks since they are regarded as one of the main pillars for executive support and therefore, we must put together our best efforts to build robust Arab banks that can confront this complex situation and mitigate the high risks hovering over our countries, especially that the expectations indicate a heightened severity of conflict between superpowers on one hand, and the escalation of the competition level between the international and financial institutions.
Finally, we hope that our Arab countries and all nations of the region are able to reach peace and economic stability as well as create all the favorable conditions needed to achieve development and prosperity.
We look forward to realizing this objective by all means and hoping that banks and financial institutions in the region will fortify and support their respective national economies since it is of prime importance, asking God to help and protect these states, restore peace, security, safety and stability, and that good prevails over our countries and the world.
Mohamad Najib Hmida El-Jamal
Chairman & General Manager