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Lebanon Opportunities

Lebanon Opportunities July 2020

Lebanon Opportunities is a quarterly business magazine that covers: Finance, Real estate, Economy, and Local business. Lebanon Opportunities has tens of thousands of readers in Lebanon and across the globe. It is the prime local business magazine in Lebanon in terms of readership, advertising, and name-awareness. Lebanon Opportunities is written to a target of small business owners, entrepreneurs and middle management, as well as to Lebanese living abroad. It aims at bringing complex business issues in a simple manner understandable by readers who are not experts and whose English language is not the mother tongue.

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2 min

Crash! The tenets of the economic system have floundered. Confidence has evaporated amidst a hard landing that has left severe casualties represented by rising unemployment rate (see page 80), a shrinking banking sector (page 100) that has been reduced to a zombie-state, and a leadership in tatters. There is enough left in the economy to allow a restart. But there isn’t an attempt at that. A duel of figures After much delay and leaked drafts, the government approved a ‘Financial Recovery Plan’ concocted behind closed doors. It was attacked – even ridiculed – by most local stakeholders. It went knocking the doors of the IMF proposing to level the entire financial system to ground zero – a financial 9/11. Banks responded with their own numbers. Parliament intervened. The debate has already lasted…

2 min

Soundbytes A number of countries have expressed their desire to help Lebanon, with France at the forefront President Michel Aoun The State is no longer able to protect its citizens and secure them a decent living Prime Minister Hassan Diab This isn’t about bailing out existing creditors or bailing out the economy. The IMF is really there to support the economy and the politicians if they are willing to make the hard economic choices to move forward and strengthen their economy. It’s too early for us to tell whether they’re willing to do that or not Steve Mnuchin, US Secretary of the Treasury - Claims that transfers to Switzerland belong to bankers are inaccurate - The law doesn’t require the Central Bank to coordinate with the government Samir Hammoud, Chairman of the Banking Control Commission There are mafias that come…

2 min

Provided by BLOM launches savings program for rural areas The USAID-funded Livelihood and Inclusive Finance Expansion (LIFE) project launched, in collaboration with BLOM Bank, an initiative under the theme ‘Bringing Peace of Mind to LIFE’ to bring rural clients into the bank’s financial inclusion strategy. As part of this initiative, BLOM Bank has introduced ‘START/ ’, a special savings account without a minimum balance. START offers a preferential interest rate on amounts as low as LL40,000 to encourage low-income individuals to save money. BLOM Bank said in April 2020 that it will roll out a nation-wide campaign to promote the new program on major TV stations. The bank said it will carry out dedicated visits to the targeted regions to encourage unbanked people to open a savings account. BLOM Bank Chairman Saad Azhari…

8 min

Provided by National Geographic has Lebanon third most exciting destination National Geographic (NatGeo) has included Lebanon in its 2020 Traveller’s Cool List as one of the 20 most interesting destinations. Lebanon is the third in the list following Namibia and Baja (California). “Lebanon is back on the travel map, and its improved safety credentials are the catalyst,” said NatGeo. “The Foreign and Commonwealth Office lifted restrictions on travel to the country last year and UK travel companies are returning in droves,” it said. This insures that the country conserves its place as a touristic destination, according to Wadih Kanaan, Head of the Tourism Committee at the Economic and Social Council. “Including the country in such lists will encourage foreign investments in the tourism infrastructure,” he said. YellowWood Adventures, Cox & Kings, Explore,…

4 min
official business

Provided by Switzerland declines request for freezing assets The Swiss Foreign Ministry (Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA)–Directorate of International Law) has responded negatively to a request for mutual legal assistance submitted by Lebanon in January 2020. The FDFA said that the conditions for cooperation have not been fulfilled. In a letter to the Lebanese Swiss Association (LSA), it said: “The population is still demonstrating and calling for a real change. In other words, the asset freeze… is not a tool to impose change in other countries.” It said regarding the freeze for purposes of confiscation in the event mutual legal assistance proceedings fail, that the Federal Illicit Asset Act provides for restrictive conditions, which only apply in exceptional circumstances. “These restrictive conditions are clearly not fulfilled in the case of Lebanon,”…

9 min

Provided by Interest rate cuts on subsidized housing loans The Central Bank (BDL) has reduced the interest rates on subsidized housing loans, according to a BDL circular. The interest on loans provided by Banque de l’Habitat (Housing Bank) is to be calculated on the basis of 20 percent of the interest rate on one-year Treasury bills plus 3.45 percent. Loans provided through the Public Corporation for Housing (PCH) are to pay an interest equal to 20 percent of the rate on two-year T-bills plus 1.6 percent. The previous interest rate on both PCH and Housing Bank loans was 5.5 percent. Housing loans provided by commercial banks and that exceed LL800 million ($531,000 at the official exchange rate) will pay an interest rate equivalent to 25 percent of the rate on oneyear T-bills…