|Bank of Beirut holds conference to highlight programs that provide loans and financing (Daily Star)
|Raising awareness of finance opportunities for industrial sector Bank of Beirut holds conference to highlight programs that provide loans and financing. The Bank of Beirut (BoB) organized a conference on Thursday at the Regency Palace Hotel in Adma to highlight the various finance facilities that are available to the industrial sector.
"We found out that most industrialists were not even aware of all the available schemes," Fadi Abboud, president of the Association of Lebanese Industrialists, said during the conference. Abboud, one of the speakers on the panel, said "financial engineering is very important for industry in Lebanon because of the very high cost of financing. That's why we are trying to raise awareness about all of the available schemes."
The various programs that have been extended to industrialists in recent years include the Arab Trade Finance Program. Introduced in 1989 by the Arab Monetary Fund, "the program provides low-cost financing to any type of trade transaction between Arab countries. The main aim is to encourage inter-Arab trade," said Hikmat Bekai, credit manager at BoB.
The bank is one of the "national agencies" selected to administer the loans and has an annual credit line of $7 million. Bekai said the interest rates are slightly higher than that of the London Inter Bank Offering Rate (LIBOR), which is presently at 1.2 percent.
"For six-month loans, it's LIBOR plus 0.35 percent, and for 12-month loans, it's LIBOR plus 0.5 percent," Bekai said. He also spoke about the Inter-Arab Investment Guarantee Corporation, for which BoB is also a national agent. "It guarantees any commercial inter-Arab transaction from war and non-payment risks," Bekai said.
Other speakers included Khater Abou Habib, chairman and general manager of Kafalat, who talked about the guarantees his agency provides to small- and medium-sized enterprises. Kafalat guarantees up to 75 percent of banks loans that have a ceiling of $200,000.
Another major scheme highlighted was the Central Bank's 7 percent interest-subsidized loans, which are available to the industrial sector. Wael Hamdan, director of the bank's office for financing programs, said that since 1998 the central bank has granted "$105 million in subsidization to the industrial, tourism and agriculture sectors."
In spite of all these facilities, a number of small industrialists that were in attendance complained that they are repeatedly denied bank loans.
The Daily Star