|Euromoney names Salameh best central bank governor
|Banque du Liban Governor Riad Salameh was named the "Best Central Bank Governor: in the world on Monday by the prestigious Euromoney magazine. This is the first time Euromoney has awarded this title to an Arab official.
At a reception held at Raffles Plaza Hotel in Singapore during the 2006 IMF/World Bank meetings and attended by more than 400 people, the award was presented to Salameh by the chairman of Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC, Padraic Fallon.
Fallon said that Salameh now faces yet another challenge in his 13-year tenure as Lebanon's Central Bank governor after the Israeli war on Lebanon. But he added that Salameh had dealt with previous challenges with flying colors, and there was little to suggest that things would be any different this time.
Euromoney said in its citation: "There has been no meltdown in Lebanon's financial markets, or a run on the banks or major sell-off in the currency. That is largely attributable to the foundations laid by the battle-hardened Central Bank. The bank has, for example, built up its foreign reserves to $13 billion, acting as a safety net in ensuring the Lebanese pound remains stable. The banking system is solvent and liquid, and has worked closely with the Central Bank to minimize disruption. At no point was there a risk Lebanon might default on its debt."
Salameh is credited with steering Lebanon through another crisis in February 2005, when the killing of former Premier Rafik Hariri led to about $2 billion in deposits being
withdrawn from the country and $5.5 billion being converted into US dollars. His actions included swap operations, issuing dollar certificates of deposit, and shoring up local banks' ratings, which culminated in highly successful Eurobond issues in October 2005 and March 2006.
The IMF has noted that the Banque du Liban has been alone in carrying the burden of financial stability and managing the macroeconomic situation in Lebanon, and has called on the government to assist with this task.
The Daily Star