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Lebanon’s Salamé stresses resilience and stability

In an exclusive interview, Riad Salamé, the longstanding governor of Banque du Liban, discusses Lebanon’s perpetual political and economic challenges, the resilience of its banks and the prospects for needed structural reform. He even ponders what he would do if he were president for a day.

Riad Salamé, the longstanding governor of Banque du Liban
Riad Salamé, the longstanding governor of Banque du Liban

So far, prime minister designate Tammam Salam has been unable to form a cabinet. How concerned are you about the negative impact this political stalemate will have on the Lebanese economy and banking sector if it persists?
We are confident that our economy and banking sector will be able to weather the negative impact of this political stalemate as they have weathered many other internal and external crises in the past few years. We became immune to such difficult conditions and this is shown in the positive results of our banking sector. Despite the challenging operating environment, the Lebanese banking sector is still reporting a healthy performance as revealed by a growth of 8% in total banking activity for the year 2012. Bank deposits are growing by 7% annually to reach $136 billion in May 2013. In parallel, lending activity is registering more than 10% annual growth, with bank credits to the private sector exceeding $45 billion in May 2013.