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French Version


Fransabank upbeat on national economy - Report highlights GDP growth

The Daily Star

Fransabank gave an upbeat picture of the Lebanese economy in 2002, crediting financial reforms and international conferences in Beirut for a number of positive developments.

Fransabank, one of the leading banks in the country, said Lebanon’s gross domestic product jumped by 3 percent in 2002.

In its economic report on Lebanon in 2002, the bank said that the Arab League and Francophone summits in 2002 boosted confidence in the country.

It added that the “Paris II” donor conference in November 2002 also helped improve the monetary market, with the Lebanese pound reaching its strongest levels since 1990.
Eighteen donor states and international organizations took part in the Paris meeting, pledging $4.4 billion in loans to help Lebanon reduce debt servicing.

Lebanon has so far received $950 million from Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Kuwait. Saudi Arabia, France, Canada, Italy and several other Arab states are expected to buy more Treasury bills at 4 percent interest in the coming few months.
The Central Bank increased its foreign currency reserves to $8.5 billion from less than $4.4 billion six months ago. The country’s balance of payments also reached a surplus of $1.5 billion at the end of 2002.
The International M
onetary Fund projected a deficit in the balance of payments of $1 billion for 2002.
Fransabank based its assessment of economic growth on several positive economic indicators, such as a rise in the number of new factories. It added that the number of passengers to and from Beirut International Airport rose by 6.6 percent to 2.6 million for 2002. The number of tourists visiting Lebanon in 2002 reached 956,000.

The report added that the fiscal situation also improved in 2002 as the budget deficit reached 42.33 percent. The government hopes to reduce the budget deficit to 25 percent in 2003 after adopting a series of reform measures.

The report said total assets of commercial banks in 2002 rose by 7.1 percent to reach $51 billion, while customer deposits increased by 2.5 percent to $41 billion.
But the report criticized the new 5 percent tax on bank deposits, warning that this step could harm the sector. It called for other means to raise revenues for the Treasury.

Beirut 13-02-2003
Osama Habib
The Daily Star



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