5 Reasons Lower Oil Prices won’t Stop Solar, Wind and Electric Cars

I was reading an article talking about five reasons why lower oil prices won’t stop solar and wind renewable energy resources in addition to electric or hybrid cars.

Developing technologies are making power plants that produce electricity from sunlight and wind much cheaper in the medium and long run and so the economic return on them will be quite promising. As to storage capacity of electricity from renewable alternative resources, gradual advancement is being achieved. Electricity for example, in Arizona can be stored from solar power and can generate electricity 6 hours after sunset. Rising economies of Asia, Africa, Latin America and growing advanced economies of US and Europe will likely push-up the demand for power and electricity especially from cheap sources like renewable abundant resources such as Solar, Wind, hydro-electric, geothermal and bio-fuels that are getting better and better year after year.

In the long run thriving renewable energy resources are going to make our world environmentally more friendly and economically more prosperous. Scientific research and development are going to bring more peace prosperity and sustainable economic growth.

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The 4 states of mind ( Happiness in the present) vs Future Vision

The video is for Vishen Lakhiani who is the founder of the mindvalley company, which grew from a very small company into an international company of a very large value in the market of various countries in the world. He talks about the ultimate or best state of the mind which is the state of flow where great events in life start happening with ease and wonderful things start to unfold and flow. He focuses on the state of flow which requires 2 important things. The first is to happy and joyful in the now with whatever job or situation you have right now and the second is to have vision in the future ( to progress and make things better and better everyday in all ways you can). “The secret” mentions ideas like that if you are contented ( happy) and thankful in the moment , you are on you way to increase your blessings and good luck both now and in the future. This is a way to improve your quality of life because if you focus on happy feelings right now , you improve your health and get in a better mood to enjoy your work and be more productive. By this way, if you are happy and far away from sadness , you can persist in growth and success. It is true that to grow in the future you have to contribute and help other people in many ways. I have seen a statement taken from the bible that says the generous will prosper and those who refresh others , will themselves be refreshed. Of course, when you give and contribute to the world do it from your heart and out of the feeling of love and joy. The universe is meant to be abundant in everything and God is very generous. Let us focus on the good side of our lives at all times and everything that comes in life comes to you by the all knowing God. I believe that God gives us the best in return for our feelings , intentions, thoughts and actions or deeds. Whatever we pass through is a test and a lesson for us to learn and progress in the future.

However, you have got to have a vision for the future to grow. You might be inspired one day to get great ideas when you have ambition towards a better future. In addition, when you have a real will to work and have ambition and vision for the future to grow, you will experience real advance and growth. An example is mentioned in the video, about a very rich man, the English Business man Richard Branson who is best known as the found of the Virgin group. Richard Branson pursued work as a play and a source of joy, so when he loved and enjoyed his life and work , he accomplished happiness, fortune, and wealth. God blessed him because he loved life and work. I Wish that all of us will be in the state of flow and believe me if you are optimistic , you improve and refresh your positive energy in all situations. “Where there is a will, there is a way” is a well known and lovely saying. At last, I wish the whole world good luck, peace and joy.

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حق المرأة اللبنانية في منح الجنسية لعائلتها

في بداية القرن الحادي والعشرين ، أليس من المنطق والعدل منح المرأة اللبنانية الحق في إعطاء الجنسية لأولادها (وهم فلذة أكبادها ) ومن ثم زوجها الأجنبي (شريك حياتها ) خاصة إذا كانوا يعيشون ويعملون داخل لبنان ويخدمون لبنان ؟ أليس من العدل أن تعطي المرأة اللبنانية جنسيتها لأسرتها خاصة إذا كان زوجها أجنبيا ويقيم في لبنان كما يعطي الرجل اللبناني الجنسية لأسرته إذا كانت زوجته أجنبية ؟ هذا الحق يساهم في تعزيز العدالة الإجتماعية في لبنان أكثر…
نحن نتكلم في لبنان عن الديموقراطية التي لا تعني فقط الإنتخابات الحرة، إنما العدالة الإجتماعية والمساواة في الحقوق والواجبات بين جميع شرائح المجتمع أيضا. يلزمنا بعض الوقت لنبدأ تطبيق هذا الشيء على الأرض مثل الدول المتقدمة ، لكن أملنا وإيماننا يبقى حيا لأن” رحلة الألف الميل تبدأ من خطوة واحدة”.
إذا أصبح التساوي بين الرجل والمرأة بحق منح الجنسية اللبنانية قائما، فهذا يشجع البعض من الأجانب ومنهم المتعلمين وأصحاب الكفاءة والرساميل والمشاريع الإنمائية أن يقيموا في لبنان ويفيدوه بخبراتهم العلمية والمهنية كما تفعل الكثير من الدول وخاصة المتطورة منها . أضف الى ذلك أن المرأة هي نصف المجتمع، هذا الحق يشجع اللبنانيات أيضا على البقاء بأرض الوطن بدل الهجرة . المساواة في حق الجنسية يساهم على المديين القصير والطويل بترسيخ المواطنة وتخفيف الطائفية والتمييز في لبنان المتنوع دينيا ومذهبيا وفكريا. هذا الحق الذي ذكرناه، يساهم بتحديث وتطوير القوانين في لبنان ، فتطور القوانين يساهم بتنمية البلد وإزدهاره وإستقراره .
للأسباب التي تم ذكرها وغيرها من الأسباب، يستحسن العمل على إقرار هذا القانون وتطبيقه لأنه كما قلنا ينعش لبنان أكثر ويساهم في إرتقائه في سلم الحضارة لأن تطوير وتحديث القوانين هي من دلائل تطور وحداثة الدولة.

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The Right of Lebanese Women to Grant Citizenship to their Families

At the beginning of the 21st century, isn’t it an important matter that Lebanese women would be given the right to offer their children (who are part of them) and their husbands (life partners) the Lebanese citizenship especially if they are all living inside Lebanon and granting important services to that country ? In Comparison, a Lebanese man offers his citizenship to his foreign wife in few years. This right mentioned above is an important characteristic of Social justice and equality.

In relation to this, democracy that we talk about in Lebanon, not only means freedom of voting and electing members of parliament and municipality, but also justice and equality in rights and duties among all aspects of society and nation in general. This will take place gradually if we approve of such equality and take the initiative to apply such laws giving Lebanese women rights to grant citizenship to their families. Of course, it will take time to make change, but journey of thousand miles, starts from the first step.

If equality between both men and women starts to exist concerning right to grant national citizenship upon marriage, then a lot of foreigners (among whom are well educated and wealthy people) would be encouraged to stay inside Lebanon and benefit the country. They might use their educational knowledge and vocational working experiences and wisdom to open new businesses and make developing projects, which many nations especially the developed ones do.
Women are half the society and if given better chances to live, they can contribute to making our country and even the whole world better. There should be no excuse of not implementing such laws because it can help us reduce discrimination based on gender and even all other kinds. This would help us modernize and update our mentality, practises, laws, and even operating systems all of which can turn our country to be more prosperous and developed. Finally, such equality can improve the living conditions and well being in Lebanon that may inspire some other nations in the region and the world to take such forward steps.



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The strength of the Lebanese Banking Sector

Lebanon is a country of wonders and miracles ranging from famous artists and singers like “Fayrouz” to brilliant poets and writers like Gibran khaleel Gibran and from magnificent nature to many scientists and inventors of Lebanese descent scattered in the world. Hence, one of the wonders of Lebanon is its firm and prosperous banking sector which contributes to turning Beirut into an important regional financial center and providing support and guarantee to the whole Lebanese economy.

The Lebanese banks and foreign banks (in Lebanon) combined together started up with total assets less than $ 3 billion in the beginning of the 90s of the 20th century to end up with total assets of $ 145 billion at the end of year 2012. All of these accomplishments have been achieved after coming up with continuous structural reforms in banking system, modernizing laws and adopting bank mergers and acquisitions. Nonetheless the institution of deposit insurance in Lebanon was established in 1967 helping Lebanon gain the soundness of banking system. The banking sector has contributed as well in the reconstruction process of Lebanon after 15 years of war ( from 1975 till 1990 ) because banks continuously supply both the public and private sector with some of their financial needs to further improve and develop.

Many factors help Lebanon to prosper and advance in commerce, financial trading and investments such as moderate climate, strategic location and millions of Lebanese expatriates worldwide, some of who send remittances to their relatives in their native country. In addition, the central bank has played a big role in the advancement of the banking sector as a whole in terms of advancement of technology utilized, banking infrastructure, regulations and legislative environment through forming banking governing bodies to keep Lebanon as an important financial center in the region. We discuss now how Lebanese banking sector has a refreshing influence on the Lebanese economy as a whole.
The strength and the flexibility of the banking system enabled Lebanon to reach financial stability. In details, the exchange rate of the Lebanese pound with respect to the US dollar was ( 900 LP= $1 ) in 1991, then became ( 1,800 LP =$ 1) in the year 1993 and so on till it became stable and fixed vis-à-vis the US dollar at rate 1,500 LP = $ 1 starting from 1998 till recent days. To stabilize the exchange rate of the Lebanese currency, it was necessary to sell treasury bonds in Lebanese Pound of 2 years maturity at an interest rate of 42 % in 1998 and then at 28 % in 1992. The interest rate on 2 years maturity treasury bills in Local currency continued to drop to 16 % in 1997 until it reached 5.84% in 2013, which means great accomplishment and increased credibility. The decline in interest rates and stability of the national currency led to improved balance of payments and diminished budget deficit. The above mentioned improvements increased the trust in the local currency (Lebanese Lira or Pound) and encouraged some people to shift their deposits from foreign currencies to the Lebanese pound, which still offers higher return. As a result, the total reserves of foreign hard currency (mostly US dollars) in the “Lebanese central bank” grew gradually to reach $ 17 billion in 2008 and upward to almost $ 37 billion in 2013. Moreover, inflation pushed downward from 120 % in 1992 to 9 % in 1996 and 3 % in 2013. In general, the central bank retains stability of interests on deposits and loans and the stability of prices in many situations through the good management of liquidity and money supply in the market.

Hence, the central bank supplies the Lebanese government with liquidity necessary to help ensure not only social stability but also the steadiness of both the monetary and fiscal policy as well. One way, the central bank with the cooperation of some banks and the ministry of finance, allows the Lebanese government to replace old treasury bonds with new ones having less cost ( lower interest rate ) and longer maturity period (longer period of time to be paid back) through a process called Swap. Thus, the country always meets its debt repayment on time; the thing that gives the country a better future economic outlook and more credibility which in turn caused the interest rates to diminish (expansionary policy) and cash flow or bank deposits to grow. By the way, the rising liquidity of banking sector and declining interest rates helped both the public and private sector get cheaper financing, which encouraged them to establish new projects, create more job opportunities and increase economic activity. Statistics show that loans to private sector grew 10 % in the 2012 because banks own large amount of liquidity in both Lebanese pounds and foreign currencies that are all under control and good management, so the loans to private sector totaled $ 45 billion ,surpassing for the first time, loans of public sector that amount $ 33 billion. By the way, the central bank of Lebanon subsidizes loans for various economic areas including construction activities, environmental (such as renewable energy), educational, industrial, agricultural, and research & development areas. Incentives are also given to people having innovative and creative business projects and ideas. Nonetheless, the banking sector as a whole with the collaboration with banking control committee attempt to reschedule or sometimes restructure (reprogram) loans given to many economic sectors especially touristic companies. In certain cases, they agree to convert the loans of these companies into shares to help companies persist and grow. Nonetheless, there are around 80 thousand loans supported by the central bank to encourage investment in real estate properties and other areas as well. According to statistics, the value of real estate transactions in Lebanon in the first half of the year 2012 reached $ 4 billion. If we go back to the 1990 s of the 20th century, the investment in Lebanon rose from $ 2.8 billion in 1992 to $ 5 billion in 1996. Meanwhile, the rising value of investments has contributed to the growth of gross domestic product value of Lebanon from $ 5.5 billion in 1992 to $ 13 billion in 1996 to progress further to $ 42 billion in 2012; this is great positive economic indication even before the extraction of the oil expected to be present in the eastern shore of the Mediterranean sea in the Lebanese territories. Hence, this economic growth reduced the percentage of the public debt compared to Gross domestic product (GDP) from 180 % in 2006 to 150 % in 2010 and down to 137 % in 2012. By the way, another point of strength is that the operating banks (including the central bank) and financial institutions in Lebanon finances 70 % of the offered loans to the public sector, so the public debt is mostly internal.

Thus, the banking sector and the financial situation were both stabilized and developed through the help and efforts made by the previous prime minister Rafik El Hariri, who led the way to make the conferences of Paris I and Paris II allowing the international community to support Lebanon with financial grants and cheaper loans, all of which improved the credibility of the Lebanese financial situation. The previous prime-minister had good relationships with many countries across the world and good management of economy that gave Lebanon access to financial assistance. Besides, the governor of the central bank called “Riad Salami “ , who received many world prizes and awards after 20 years of persistent success in the management and leadership of the Lebanese banking sector. Nevertheless, Riad Salami aided Lebanon to be ranked in the 12th position globally concerning the firmness and strength of the banking system. Lebanon used to be called “ the Switzerland of the Middle East “ due to great banking services offered and the law of banking secrecy that has been implemented since 1956.

The banking system has been built on sound and robust financial engineering and monetary policy in which Riad Salami (Governor of the central bank) had an important role also. Besides, continuous advancement and reforms have been achieved in banking and financial laws and legislation plus the development of banking infrastructure and technology. The development and strength of the banks in Lebanon are due to several reasons, some of which are:

First: Specifying a minimum percentage of required reserve ratios based on total deposits of the banks.

Second: Organizing the process of issuing treasury bonds and treasury bills whether in foreign currencies or national currency to meet the financial needs of the government and ensure a better management of public debt at the same time.

Third: Encouraging banks to strengthen its capital base and diversify its assets to guarantee a minimum level of solvency to catch up with the requirements of Basel – 3 in the year 2015. Nowadays, banks have more than enough solvencies of 12 % which is more than the minimum 8 % required in Basel – 2; having adequate solvency gives more international trust in the banking sector and assists the banks to grow, expand, thrive and open new branches inside Lebanon and outside as well. In this manner, they diversify their assets and business activities both inside Lebanon and abroad in the 5 inhabited continents of the world. It is well known generally in business world that diversification of investments constitutes more balance in different kinds of assets, expansion of business activities, more safety, and increase in resiliency ( immunity ), because it is better not to put all investments in one place. For instance, Bank Audi initiated recently some branches in Turkey after it had already opened some branches in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Another example, Bank of Beirut bought an Australian Bank and named it “Bank of Sydney”. In conclusion, the overall improvement is clear when statistics show that the portion of assets of Lebanese banks outside Lebanon rose from 32.4 % of total assets of Lebanese banks in December 2012 to 38.4 % in June 2013.

Fourth: The governor of the central bank avoided the global financial crisis that started in 2008. Instead, there was high percentage of economic growth in Lebanon in 2008 and 2009 because of conservative and careful but wise financial policy and strategically controlled investment. Thus, very rare were risky investments taken or speculation used by banks, so most of their investments were safe and of good quality. Meanwhile, despite the fact that the central bank subsidizes and encourages loans for housing, industry, education, and environment (as a detailed example, the central bank has subsidized around $ 4 billion for housing loans recently), it manages not to permit the amount of all loans combined together to exceed a certain percentage of total bank deposits, so that banks operating would preserve a minimum percentage of necessary liquidity. Besides, loans are only granted after the file, business expectations, and capability of the customer to pay back in return are well evaluated and assessed. At the same time, the customer must give either a cash guarantee or property mortgage and in some cases he or she is required to have at least one person as a guarantor. In accordance with legislation, the value of a loan can’t go beyond 70 or 80 % of the real value of the mortgage property. If the loan is large, the customer has to buy some kind of insurance. Nevertheless, as we mentioned previously, that in certain cases, there are ways to facilitate or help the customers settle or repay their loans through rescheduling or restructuring loans (for longer period) or even sometimes converting the bonds or loans into stocks or shares.

In conclusion, the flexibility and good management is shown since the percentage of doubtful debt to be collected in 2012 did not exceed 3.5 % down from 12.2 % in 2006. Meanwhile, the provisions allocated for such debt covered up to 75 % of these doubtful debts in 2012 rising up from 66 % in 2006 as an average.

Fifth: Merger of banks or even the acquisition of the weak banks by the strong banks under the control, supervision and approval of the central bank of Lebanon. For instance, Bank of Beirut has bought a smaller bank called “Bank of Beirut and Riyadh”, so bank of Beirut has grown larger and more powerful becoming one of the top 10 banks in Lebanon. A great example of merger is between bank of Audi and the financial institution of Saradar in 2004. The resources and technological experience of both Audi and Saradar were both combined together to form a holding company called “Audi – Saradar” group, that is the second largest banking group in Lebanon and one of the biggest 500 banks in the world.

Sixth: Implementation of international laws in the process of transparency and fighting money laundering; the Lebanese banks or foreign banks ask about the source of any large amount of money that a customer acquires. Add to that there is cooperation and exchange of information about taxes with the governments, central banks and ministries of finance of some countries like France and USA for example. Some of the employee staff in the banks are being trained by the help of experts of international accounting companies for the application of the newly issued American law called “FATCA” concerning taxes on all properties and wealth ( whether inside or outside USA) owned by American citizens.

Seventh: The Lebanese banks are characterized by providing diversity of updated and modern services. As an example, there is an electric card called “possess in your homeland “that permits and encourages the Lebanese expatriates to buy and possess a property in Lebanon. There is also a card called “ Lebanese “ which transforms the expenses charged through the use of this card into units or minutes of mobile calls for free to all users. Besides, a special kind of electronic payment cards are produced to offer their users discounts upon visiting some chains of restaurants and shopping centers or residence of some hotels in Lebanon. In addition, “Master Card Cedar Miles” gives its owner (upon every use) accumulation of miles to travel for free through certain airlines like MEA, Air France and others. Moreover, modern services like wireless payment and electronic payment through the mobile and internet (e-payment) are established. For instance, Bank Audi has issued recently a web site on the internet called e-mall, where a virtual mall on the web site for some companies to show or present their goods and products that could be sold electronically through visa and American Express for example. The goods sold are protected and transported from the commercial companies to the customers all over the world by postal corporations (that bank Audi contracted with). A good point that commerce through the internet seems to be growing and is expected to have a promising future. Other services are internet banking that gives a plenty of various banking services through internet. Private banking is advanced because it offers great opportunities and private services to individuals like diversified investments in the stocks of several companies, treasury bonds, mutual funds, trading in financial securities and others. Moreover, the Lebanese banking legislation and law also permits Islamic banking.

Eighth: Gold represents coverage for local currency. Despite the small area of Lebanon, it owns 287 tons of gold reserves or nearly 10 million ounce of gold. Lebanon is ranked 19 in the world in terms of the size of gold reserve by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) sources.

Ninth: Economic Freedom and permission to transfer funds to and from Lebanon. Moreover, there is no restriction on conversion of the national currency into foreign currency or vice versa. The law protects foreign capital and foreign deposits inside the country where there is only a little tax on capital profits and interests gained on deposits. Consequently, many Lebanese expatriates deposit their money in Lebanon to benefit from the high returns on deposits in the Lebanese pound that offers 7 % interest especially if the deposit account is big enough.

Tenth: The profits of banks are generally on steady growth as statistics show. Profits in 2012 increased despite what is happening (Arab Spring) in Syria, the neighboring country. The importance of the Lebanese banks is that it employs 21 thousand people, 72% of whom have university education at the end of 2012 and encouraged to stay and work in Lebanon. Add to the last mentioned facts, the indirect job opportunities that banks could create through lending and spending money and so on.

Eleventh: Banking and financial institutions constitute a vital and important part of the real economy. The proof is the large role played by central banks and other banks in countries through the use of certain financial instruments. For example, interest rate cuts, buying treasury bonds and in some cases printing money when needed to revive the economy especially in developed nations like USA, Japan and Britain. Not only developed nations use financial instruments, but also rising or developing nations like Turkey has recently raised interest rate to keep the exchange rate of the Turkish pound stable. Another example is China that is now taking action to make gradual reform of the banking sector in terms of some liberalization of the national currency exchange rate and interest rates. Specifically, there is now in China removing the ceiling for interest rates on loans to encourage financial institutions to give more loans. Moreover, new laws in China demand insurance on some loans. Besides, more Steps to improve assessment of credibility to grant loans are taken. Nevertheless, China has felt the need to open up its economy for more private banks to operate rather than restrict the Chinese banking sector just for public or governmental banks only. The recently stated reforms and restructure in the financial and banking system is necessary and vital to maintain a sustainable and balanced growth. By the way, we note that the larger the size of the economy or gross domestic product gets, the more enormous and abundant the financial institutions and the banking sector grow and so the opposite is true. To illustrate, we can notice the level of income (or GDP per capita) in Switzerland and Luxembourg is one of the highest in the world because of the very powerful and successful banking sectors that they possess.

In return to the case of Lebanon, the growth of the Lebanese banking industry contributes to the development of the Lebanese economy generally in various ways and at most times. Moreover, it encourages partnerships between the public sector and private sectors in order to develop infrastructure, boost economic growth and increase job opportunities. There, are many reasons that strengthen and protect the Lebanese banking sector which has great potential and faith in the future of Lebanon.

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متانة القطاع المصرفي في لبنان

لبنان بلد فيه عجائب ومعجزات ، من فنانين ومطربين مشهورين مثل فيروز، من شعراء وكتاب لامعين مثل جبران خليل جبران. ويحوي أيضا علماء ومخترعين منتشرين في العالم. ومن المعجزات التي فيه قطاعه المصرفي المتين والمزدهر والضامن للإ قتصاد الوطني والمساهم في تحويل بيروت الى مركز مالي إقليمي.

إنطلق القطاع المصرفي اللبناني بموجودات تقل عن 3 مليارات $ في أول التسعينات من القرن الماضي ونما وتطور الى 145 مليار $ في نهاية 2012 بعد استحداث اصلاحات قانونية وبنيوية متواصلة ود مج مصرفي. ساهم القطاع المصرفي بإعادة إعمار لبنان بعد حرب 15 سنة ( من 1975 حتى 1990 م ) لأنه موّل باستمرار معظم حاجات القطاعين الخاص والعام ويستمر متخطيا مراحل أصعب من التي نمر بها اليوم. يساعد لبنان في التجارة والأعما ل والمصارف والإستثمار مناخه المعتدل ، وموقعه الجغرافي الإستراتيجي على البحر المتوسط ، والإغتراب اللبناني المنتشر، حيث أن المغتربين والمتحدرين من أصل لبناني كثر بالملايين يرسل بعضهم الأموال الى أقربائهم في لبنان.

بسبب متانة ومرونة القطاع المصرفي ، إستطاع لبنان أن يصل بعد عمل دؤوب الى الإستقرار النقدي والمالي. وبالتفاصيل، كان سعر صرف الليرة اللبنانية مقابل الدولار الأميركي ( 900 ل ل = 1 $ ) في سنة 1991 ثم أصبح ( 2800 ل ل = 1 $ ) في سنة 1992 ، وثم ( 1800 ل ل = 1 $ ) في سنة 1993، الى أن وصلت الليرة اللبنانية الى الثبات والإستقرار مقابل الدولار الأميركي ( 1500 ل ل = 1 $ ) في سنة 1998 حتى اليوم . لتثبيت سعر صرف الليرة ، اضطر لبنان للإستدانة عام 1988 بفائدة 42 % لسندات خزينة بالليرة اللبنانية مدة عامين، و% 28 عام 1992 و % 16 في 1997 ، نزولا الى % 5.84 لسندات خزينة بالليرة اللبنانية مدة عامين عام 2013، ما يعني أنه إنجاز جيد وثقة أكبر. وقد أدى إنخفاض الفوائد وإستقرار العملة الوطنية الى تحسين ميزان المدفوعا ت وتخفيض عجز الموازنة بنسب جيدة . وتحسن الموازنة العامة للبنان زاد الثقة بالليرة اللبنانية فتم تحويل بعض الودائع من العملات الأجنبية الى الليرة بسبب العائدات الأعلى على العملة الوطنية ، مما زاد إحتياط مصرف لبنان من العملات الأجنبية الصعبة حتى وصل الى قيمة 17 مليار دولار في 2008 ثم 37 مليار دولار أميريكي في 2013. لقد مكَنت إنجازات القطاع المصرفي من خفض نسبة التضخم من نسبة 120 % سنة 1992 الى حوالي 9 % سنة 1996 م نزولا الى نسبة مقبولة ( بالنسبة لدولة ناشئة ) عند 3 % سنة 2013 م . يقوم مصرف لبنان أيضا بإدارة السيولة للحفاظ على الإستقرار في أسعارالفوائد وضبط التضخم في كافة الأحوال .

كما أنه يؤمن السيولة والملاءة للدولة اللبنانية وإستقرار السياسة المالية والنقدية في نفس الوقت. وقد أتاح مصرف لبنان بالتعاون مع المصارف في لبنان ووزارة المالية استبدال سندات الخزينة المستحقة ( عمليات swap ) بسندات خزينة جديدة بفوائد أقل ومدة استحقاق أطول، لذلك لبنان يفي بالدين والسند المستحق في موعده المحدد وهو ما حسّن النظرة المستقبلية للبنان . إن إنخفاض فوائد سندات الخزينة وزيادة الودائع المصرفية، سمحت للبنوك بتمويل القطاعين الخاص والعام بكلفة أقل، وقد شجع خفض الفوائد (وهو سياسة إقتصادية توسعية ) القطاع الخاص على زيادة الإقتراض وتوسيع الأعمال وتوفير فرص عمل حيث نمت التسليفات للقطاع الخاص 10 % عام 2012 لأن القطاع المصرفي يملك سيولة كبيرة بالليرة والعملات الأجنبية وكلها تحت السيطرة، وقد بلغ التسليف للقطاع الخاص 45 مليار دولار أمريكي وللقطاع العام 33 مليار $ . بالمناسبة، يؤمن مصرف لبنان دعما لتلك القروض لتحريك مختلف القطاعات الإقتصادية شاملة السكنية والبيئية (مثل الطاقة البديلة ) والتعليمية والصناعية والزراعية والسياحية والبحوث والإنماء وتشجيع الشباب على مشاريع الإبتكار. من هنا يقوم القطاع المصرفي مع لجنة الرقابة على المصارف بإتفاق على إعادة برمجة أو حتى جدولة ديون (restructure) عدة قطاعات خاصة السياحية وأحيانا تحويل سندات الدين الى أسهم لمساعدة المؤسسات على الصمود وتشجيع النمو. كما أنه هناك 80 ألف قرض سكني مدعوم من مصرف لبنان لتحفيز الإستثمار في العقارات . وحسب الإحصاءات ، وصلت قيمة المعاملات العقارية في النصف الأول من 2012 الى 4 مليارات $ . بفضل القطاع المصرفي وحتى جهود الحكومة زادت الإستثمارات في لبنان من 2.8 مليارات $ عام 1992 الى 5 مليارات $ عام 1996. وزيادة الإستثمارات ساهمت في نمو الناتج المحلي الإجمالي للبنان من حوالي 5.5 مليارات $ عام 1992 الى 13 مليار $ عام 1996 الى 42 مليار $ عام 2012 ، وهو مؤشر إقتصادي جيد ( حتى قبل إستخراج النفط المتوقع في المياه اللبنانية في شرق البحر الأبيض المتوسط في المستقبل القريب ) . والنمو الإقتصادي خفّض الدين العام نسبة الى الناتج المحلي الإجمالي من 180 % سنة 2006 الى 150 % في 2010 نزولا عند 137 % سنة 2012 . السوق اللبنانية والقطاع المصرفي والمالي بالتعاون مع بنك لبنان المركزي يمولون أكثر من 70 % من التسليفات للقطاع العام، لذا الدين العام اليوم أكثره داخلي لا خارجي ، وهو من نقاط القوة في لبنان.

لقد تم تنمية القطاع المصرفي وجعل الوضع المالي والنقدي مستقرا ومتينا ، بمساعدة وجهود رئيس الحكومة الراحل رفيق الحريري الذي أسس وهيّأ أرضية صلبة لعقد مؤتمرات للدول المانحة في مؤتمرات باريس,2 , 1 و3، فبفضل حنكته في ادارة الإقتصاد وعلاقاته الدولية الواسعة ، استطاع أن يجلب مساعدات وقروض دولية للبنان بكلفة أقل ويحسّن الثقة بالأوضاع المالية والإئتمانية كثيرا بسبب زيادة الضمانات الدولية الممنوحة للبنان . وحاكم مصرف لبنان رياض سلامة ( الحائز على جوائز دولية وعالمية) بعد نجاحات متواصلة له خلال 20 عاما ( يتم التجديد له في حاكمية مصرف لبنان ) ، ساعد على جعل لبنان بمرتبة 12 عالميا من حيث المتانة المصرفية . ولبنان كان يدعى “ىسويسرا الشرق” حيث كان ولا يزال يطبق قانون السرية المصرفية منذ 1956 وبيروت ما زالت من المراكز المالية المهمة في الشرق الأد نى .لقد بني القطاع المصرفي على سياسات وهندسات مالية ونقدية جيدة فكان لحاكم مصرف لبنان رياض سلامة دور كبير فيها، بالإضافة الى تطوير القوانين والتشريعات والبنية التحتية والتكنولوجيا التي تستخدمها المصارف. ومن أسباب متانة وتطور المصارف نحو الأفضل ما يلي:

أولا : وضع حد أدنى للمخصصات المفروضة على الفروع الأساسية للمصارف وحد أدنى من نسبة الإحتياطي الإلزامي من اصل الودائع بشكل مدروس.

ثانيا : تنظيم عمليات إصدار سندات الدين وسندات الخزينة إن كان بالعملة الوطنية أو الأجنبية حسب مقتضيات كل مرحلة وذلك من أجل إدارة أفضل للدين العام والخاص …

ثالثا : حث المصارف على تعزيز أموالها الخاصة وقاعدة رأس المال وتنويع الأصول لتأمين حد أدنى من الملاءة  solvency ) ) لتتماشى مع مقتضيات مؤتمر بازل 3 عام 2015. وكدليل على الثقة بالقطاع المصرفي اللبناني اليوم لديه ملاءة 12 % أكثر من المطلوب 8 % كحد أدنى للملاءة في مقررات بازل 2. وهذا يساعد المصارف اللبنانية على التوسع وإفتتاح فروع جديدة داخل لبنان وخارجه حتى ينمو القطاع المصرفي ويزدهر . تتنوع وتتوزع موجودات وأعمال ونشاطات البنوك داخل لبنان وخارجه في القارات الخمس ما يمثل توازنا أكبر وتوسعا للأعمال وثقة ومناعة أكبر فلا يضع البنك جميع استثماراته في بلد واحد . مثلا: قام بنك عودة حديثا بفتح عدة فروع في تركيا وقبلها في دول في أوروبا والشرق الأوسط وأفريقيا . كما قام بنك بيروت بشراء بنك استرالي في أستراليا أسماه بنك سيد ني. وحسب الإحصاء، زادت نسبة موجودات المصارف اللبنانية خارج لبنان من 32.4 % من (Assets Total ) الموجودات الإجمالية للمصارف اللبنانية في كا نون الأول 2012 الى 38.6 % بنهاية حزيران 2013 .

رابعا : تجنب حاكم مصرف لبنان الأزمة المالية العالمية التي ابتدأت عام 2008. وبالمقابل كان في لبنان نسبة نمو اقتصادي مرتفعة في عامي 2008 و 2009 بسبب السياسة المحافظة والحذرة والحكيمة في الإستثمار التي تجنبت مشتقات مالية وأصول مصرفية عالية المخاطر الا ما ندر وبشكل محدود جدا، فمعظم استثمارات البنوك ذات قيمة عالية . ورغم تشجيع البنك المركزي ودعم القروض السكنية والصناعية والبيئية والتعليمية ( وحتى في الفترة الأخيرة ضخ 4 مليار $ كقروض بفوائد مدعومة للعقارات والقطاع السكني ) ، فإنه منع تجاوز التسليفات والقروض على جميع أنواعها نسبة معينة من إجمالي الودائع ليحافظ على السيولة الضرورية للبنوك. أضف الى ذلك، إن القروض تعطى فقط بعد درس طلب القرض والتدقيق بملف العميل جيدا وأخذ ضما نات نقدية أو رهن أراض وعقارات وأحيانا يطلب من الزبون أن يكفله أحد. في القا نون ، لا يسمح أن يتخطى قيمة القرض 70 أو 80 % من قيمة العقار المرهون . ويطلب من الزبون أن يشتري نوعا من أنواع التأمين ( insurance ) إذا كان القرض كبيرا . يتم كما ذكرنا في حالات كثيرة تسهيلات بالدفع وإعادة جدولة الديون في حال واجه الزبون المقترض صعوبات في الدفع ، وهو ما يشير الى مرونة القطاع المصرفي وحنكته. كدليل على حسن الإدارة ، في نهاية 2012 لم تزد الد يون المشكوك بتحصيلها عن 3.5 % نزولا من 12.2 % كانت في 2006 ، كما أصبحت المؤونات المخصصة لها 75% من قيمة هذه القروض في 2013 صعودا من 66% في 2006 كمعدل عام للمصارف اللبنانية.

خامسا : د مج البنوك اللبنانية أو حتى شراء البنك القوي للبنك الضعيف تحت رقابة وإشراف وموافقة مصرف لبنان فقام مثلا بنك بيروت بشراء بنك أصغر منه وهو بنك “بيروت الرياض” ، فأصبح بنك بيروت أقوى وأكبر وهو من العشرة الأوائل اليوم في لبنان . كمثل آخر، هناك د مج بنك عودة وشركة وسارادار المالية في 2004. لقد تم جمع موارد وخبرات التكنولوجيا لهما ، فأصبحت مجموعة بنك “عودة – سارادار” القابضة (Holding company) ثاني أكبر مجموعة مصرفية في لبنان وواحدة من أكبر 500 مجموعة مصرفية في العالم .

سادسا: تطبيق القوانين الدولية في مجال الشفافية وقانون مكافحة تبييض الأموال، فتسأل البنوك اللبنانية عن مصدر أي مبلغ مالي كبير يحصل عليه الزبون . كما أنه هناك تعاون وتبادل معلومات في مجال الضرائب مع الحكومات والمصارف المركزية ووزارات المال لدول مثل فرنسا والولايات المتحدة ، طبعا بالتوازي مع السرية المصرفية المتبعة في لبنان. يتم تدريب بعض الموظفين على تطبيق قانون فاتكا Fatca” ” الأميركي الذي سيطبق في السنوات القليلة القادمة في مجال الضرائب على المواطنين الأميركيين وذلك بالتعاون والإفادة من خبرات شركات محاسبة عالمية .

سابعا : تتميز المصارف اللبنانية ببنية تحتية وبيئة تشريعية وقانونية متطورة وحديثة مما ساهم بتقديم خدمات مبتكرة ومتنوعة وخلاقة . على سبيل المثال ، قرض ” تملك ببلد ك ” يسمح ويشجع اللبناني المغترب أن يتملك عقارا في بلده الأم. بطاقة “لبناني” تحول مصاريف مستخدمها الى دقائق اتصال مجانية على هاتفه الخليوي. ونوع خاص من بطاقات الدفع الألكتروني تخول صاحبها الحصول على حسومات لدى ارتياد شبكة من المطاعم ومحلات ألبسة معينة. إضافة الى بطاقة ” Master Card Cedar Miles ” فيها برنامج يسمح لصاحبها عند كل استخدام بتجميع أميال للسفر عبر خطوط الجوية للشرق الأوسط وخطوط “Air France ” وغيرها … وبنفس الوقت ، هناك خدمات متطورة مثل الد فع اللاسلكي wireless payment ) ) والدفع الألكتروني عبر الإنترنت والخليوي ( E-payment)، مثلا : قام بنك عودة بإطلاق موقع على الإنترنت إسمه E-mall فهو مثل مجمع تجاري على الإنترنت حيث تقوم الشركات بعرض بضاعتها فيتم الشراء والدفع عبر البطاقات الألكترونية مثل American Express و Visa وتتم حماية وشحن ونقل المشتريات من المتجر للزبائن في كل بلدان العالم عن طريق شركات بريد (متعاقد معها ). هذا والتجارة عبر الإنترنت يتوقع لها مستقبل واعد . كما انه تحقق خدمات مصرفية على الإنترنت Internet Banking ) )، و خدمات مصرفية خاصة private banking )) ، حيث يقدم البنك خدمات خاصة لأفراد مثل إستثمارات في أصول متنوعة من أسهم شركات وسندات وصكوك و محافظ إستثمارية وتجارة بأوراق مالية وغيرها. كما أن القوانين اللبنانية تسمح بالصيرفة الإسلامية …

ثامنا: رغم صغر مساحة لبنان فإنه يملك 287 طن ذهب احتياطي أو ما
يقارب 10 ملايين أونصة ذهب وهو في المرتبة 19 عالميا من ناحية حجم الإحتياطي للذهب حسب مصادر صندوق النقد الدولي، ما يمثّل تغطية للعملة المحلية.

تاسعا: الحرية الإ قتصادية وحرية نقل الأموال من والى لبنان وحرية في التحويل من العملة الوطنية الى العملة الأجنبية وبالعكس. كما أنه هناك قانون لحماية رأس المال والودائع الأجنبية offshore banking ) ( التي لا تخضع الأرباح فيها الا الى القليل من الضرائب مثلا ضريبة بنسبة منخفضة على فائدة الودائع. هناك العديد من المغتربين اللبنانيين الذين يودعون أموالهم في لبنان للإستفادة من العائدات المرتفعة على ودائع الليرة اللبنانية قد تبلغ 7% على الودائع الكبيرة ، بالإضافة الى وجود الكثير من البنوك المراسلة حول العالم .

عاشرا: تتزايد أرباح المصارف عاما بعد عام ، وبين عامي 2011 و2012 زادت الأرباح قليلا رغم ظروف الربيع العربي .كما أن المصارف اللبنانية توظف 21,000 شخص نسبة % 72 منهم جامعيين نهاية 2012، وهذا عدا عن فرص العمل غير المباشرة التي تخلقها ما يشجع بعض من كوادر الشباب المتعلمين وأصحاب الكفاءة والخبرة على البقاء في بلدهم.

الحادي عشر : تشكل المؤسسات المالية والمصرفية شريانا حيويا أو جزءا من الإقتصاد الحقيقي . الدليل هو الدور الكبير الذي تلعبه المصارف المركزية والبنوك بضخ الأموال والسيولة عن طريق إستعمال الأدوات المالية ( مثل تخفيض سعر الفائدة وشراء سندات خزينة وضخ السيولة النقدية ) لإنعاش وتحريك الإقتصاد ، وهو ما نشاهده في الدول المتقد مة اليوم مثل الولايات المتحدة الأميريكية واليابان وبريطانيا أو في الدول الصاعدة مثل الصين التي تقوم بإصلاح القطاع المصرفي تدريجيا من حيث تحرير سعر صرف العملة الوطنية وحاليا تحرير سعر الفائدة والتأمين على التسليفات وفتح المجال أكثر امام القطاع المصرفي الخاص للعمل فيها حتى تستمر الصين بنمو إقتصادي مرتفع ومستدام. نلاحظ عادة أنه كلما كبر حجم الإقتصاد كلما نما حجم المصارف والقطاع المالي والعكس صحيح. والدليل مستوى الدخل المرتفع في سويسرا ولوكسمبورغ المصنفة من إحدى أفضل الدول لناحية القوة المصرفية . وبالعودة الى لبنان، نرى أن نمو القطاع المصرفي اللبناني ساهم في تنمية الإقتصاد اللبناني كله بشكل عام.
وفي الختام ، هناك أسباب كافية وكثيرة لتجعل المصارف اللبنانية الحصن المنيع وصمام الأمان في مختلف الظروف لأنها تملك إمكانيات كبيرة ومؤمنة بمستقبل البلد وتشجع الشراكة بين القطاعين العام والخاص لتطوير وتنمية البنية التحتية وزيادة نسب النمو الإقتصادي وفرص العمل والإزدهار في لبنان . وكان للبنك المركزي فضل ودور كبير في تطوير التكنولوجيا والبنية التحتية والبيئة التشريعية للمصارف وتحديث القوانين عبر تكوين هيئات ناظمة ليستمر لبنان كمركز مالي إقليمي .

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Business Environment in Lebanon

A Good Business Environment is the most important factor contributing to an economy in any country in the world. As a country’s economy is the collective sum of its individuals income and its corporations. Therefore, the success of any country leadership is in its capability to encourage new investments, support entrepreneurship and safe guard its existing businesses.

Let us start with the basics of the basics:
If you are a rich Swiss man or a wealthy Brazilian Investor or a Lebanese Expatriate looking back to go back to Lebanon for an Investment. Your most basic requirements are probably, safety, quality of life, quality of the business Environment (Logistically speaking), a big consumer Market.

With the continuous chronically unstable situation in Lebanon, the first two conditions (Safety and quality of life) simply do no exist. However, fortunately, Lebanese people like to live, love life, love to spend more than they earn and this makes Lebanon a good Investment Market. So let us discuss the Logistical Side of business.

What is the situation of the Business Environment in Lebanon? Logistically speaking; assuming that the above conditions of security and peace are delivered; where does Lebanon stand? How easy is it to open a business in Lebanon? How easy is it to run a business in Lebanon?

Logistics performance index: Quality of trade and transport
2.41 1=low to 5=high (2012)

Logistics performance index: Efficiency of customs clearance
2.21 1=low to 5=high (2012)

Logistics performance index: Ease of arranging competitively priced shipments
2.71 1=low to 5=high (2012)

Logistics performance index: Competence and quality of logistics services
2.38 1=low to 5=high (2012)

Logistics performance index: Frequency with which shipments reach consignee within scheduled or expected time
3.11 1=low to 5=high (2012)

Logistics performance index: Ability to track and trace consignments
2.61 1=low to 5=high (2012)

Logistics performance index: Overall
2.58 1=low to 5=high (2012)

Well, if you take a look at the numbers, as a business man, you would probably ask your self, why wouldn’t you invest in UAE or Qatar or Singapore, fair question… the answer is yes… Lebanon is no longer the Pearl of the middle east.

Unfortunately non of the healthy business environment conditions are available in Lebanon, with the continuous internal and external tension, partial war spillover from Syria, high political instability, relatively low over all Logistic Performance Index, Business in Lebanon will continue to suffer, scale down and close down.

Until when? We hope for a better future for our country. Time to wake up and realize that the only way forward is together hand in hand for a bright prosperous future.

To discuss this: please visit our forum thread, Business Environment in Lebanon

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GDP growth in all countries since the start of the global economic crisis

The GDP (PPP) growth is calculated from 2008 (the start of the global economic crisis) up to 2011, the results are displayed in both Thematic Map and tabular format.

39 countries had their economy shrink, this certainly includes countries which were hit hard by the crisis, like Iceland, Ireland, Greece, Spain and United Kingdom. United States had only 1.1 % growth in 3 years.

In general, developing countries had very high growth since the global crisis. More than 40 countries had a growth higher than 15% in 3 years, this includes countries with large economies like India, China, Nigeria and Argentina.

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GDP per capita (PPP) growth in the last ten years (list of countries)

The GDP per capita (PPP) growth calculated over the last ten  years is displayed below in both Thematic Map and tabular format.

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Average yearly precipitation correlation with average yearly temperature

Average precipitation in depth (mm per year) and Average yearly temperature (1961-1990, Celsius) have medium positive correlation.

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Paraguay and Iceland, a role model in renewable energy usage and sustainability

In an ideal situation, a higher yearly average precipitation would imply higher surface water flow (rivers) and more hydraulic power available for hydroelectric power generation. Sadly, the correlation between both Indicators isn’t that high. The Correlation coefficient between the percentage of power generation from hydroelectric sources and the average yearly precipitation equals to 0.29, indicating a medium positive correlation between the two indicators.
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Average yearly temperature and GDP per capita show medium correlation levels

The correlation coefficient between the Average yearly temperature (1961-1990, Celsius) and GDP per capita, PPP (constant 2005 international $) equals to -0.31 indicating a medium negative correlation between the two indicators. In other words, this means that countries having a higher average yearly temperatures tend to have lower GDP per Capita.
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Fertility rate is highly correlated to female education levels

The correlation between the percentage of girls to boys in primary and secondary education and women’s fertility rate equals to -0.61 indicating high negative correlation between the two indicators. In other words, revealing that countries having a higher percentage of females in primary secondary school tend to have lower fertility rate.
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Fertility rate of women has a strong negative correlation with GDP per capita

The calculated value of the correlation coefficient between the GDP per capita, PPP (constant 2005 international $) and Fertility rate, total (births per woman) is -0.53, which means that there a strong negative correlation between GDP per capita in a country and the fertility rate of women and the fertility rate is likely to decrease as the GDP per Capita (or in other words the individual income) increases. Continue reading

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The Financial gap between rich and poor people could be contributing to a higher crime rate

The calculated value of the correlation coefficient between the GINI index of income distribution and Intentional homicides rate is 0.49, which means that the homicide rate is likely to increase as the gap between the rich and poor people increases. Continue reading

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Life expectancy at birth has high negative correlation with population poverty

The calculated value of the correlation coefficient between the population in a country living on less than $2.00 a day and Life Expectancy at Birth  is -0.83, indicating that poverty and life expectancy at birth are strongly negatively correlated. What does this mean? Continue reading

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GDP (PPP) growth by country in the last ten years

The GDP (PPP) growth calculated over the last ten  years is displayed below in both Thematic Map and tabular format.

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Will The Euro Currency Persist?

The European Union and specifically the Euro zone have no good or interest in banishing (getting rid) of the unified currency called “Euro”. The Euro is an important sign of the unification of the economies of 17 European countries giving them more competitive advantage in comparison to many rising and developing nations in the world as well. Second, it is a better way for them to open up their borders for transfer of goods, services, labour, and skills among them. Then, this is a manner for those countries whether advanced like Germany, France and Holland for instance or less developed (with all respect) in Europe like some countries in Southern Europe to stay protected from both inflation and recession. These are some advantages of the Euro currency, which faces some challenges now and countries adopting it are trying to resolve the problem of accumulated public debt.
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Lebanese Electricity Sector

I do remember year 1990, the first day in my whole life as a 7 years old, to see the feeble light coming out of the old lamps in my house. That was a big deal, why? Because that was the day electricity was restored to my village after 15 years of bloody dark civil war.
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يحيا النظام المدني العلماني في لبنان

من أفضل الطرق أو المحفزات لتطور لبنان هو تخطي مرحلة الطائفية والمذهبية للوصول إلى العلمانية والنظام المدني، لكن هناك مراحل وخطوات يجب أن نمر بها قبل مثل إعتبار الكفاءة في التوظيف بدل المحاصة الطائفية أو واسطة زعماء الطوائف…

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Will History Repeat itself in 21st Century?

Will Tunisian revolution in 2011 be like the French revolution (in 1789) that has contributed to the development in European social, political and economic reality?

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The Lebanese Jungle

I am writing this to express my frustration from the way things are in Lebanon and i hope things will change soon.

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Recent View on Economic Improvement in Lebanon

Recently, it has been obvious and clear that Lebanese economy has surpassed local unstable political situation and the global financial crisis in the past years; thanks to the careful and smart monetary policy of the central bank (that avoided much investment in highly risky financial tools and kept away from giving loans without taking adequate guarantees and making enough assessment for each bank customer who requests a loan). The governor of the central bank, Riad Salami, has been rewarded an international prize because Lebanese banking management and system have been proved successful. Besides, Lebanon has been one of few countries in the world that has had an economic growth of 9% and 8% in 2008 and 2009 respectively. Continue reading

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Top Lebanese Newspapers

Major Lebanese Newspapers and digital media resources are:

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