Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh said that Banque Du Liban may license a stock exchange that would list SMEs and family-owned businesses, with special emphasis on technology. “We are considering ways to create exit possibilities for any startup or fund that chooses to go public,” Salameh added.
His remarks came during the Global Lebanese Entrepreneurs and Investors Summit held at Phoenicia Intercontinental Hotel.
The Central Bank has undertaken several important initiatives in the past two years to support entrepreneurs including the issuance of a circular aimed at creating synergy between the banks and the knowledge sector in Lebanon.
“This circular has put $400 million at the disposal of startups and other stakeholders,” Salameh said.
“So far, $150 million has been allocated by banks to support funds, accelerators and startup companies,” he said, adding that BDL had developed a financial mechanism through which it guarantees 75 percent of banks’ investment.
He revealed that BDL had formed a dedicated team to follow up on the investment requests submitted by banks seeking guarantees, adding that this team would deliver prompt and professional responses.
Salameh also emphasized the importance of the knowledge economy sector, saying that it would be, in addition to the oil and gas sector, the pillar of the Lebanese economy in the future.
“The digital economy will generate job opportunities and will enhance the internal demand at a time when external demand is shrinking due to the security situation in the region and the collapse in oil prices,” he added.
Salameh also shared with his audience some monetary results from the year 2014, saying, “the Lebanese pound remained stable, backed by BDL’s high foreign [currency] holdings that reached a historical record, exceeding $38 billion.”
“This is allowing us to expand in backing the economy with special incentive programs such as the one we are doing for entrepreneurs,” the governor added.
Moreover, he said that BDL was the second-largest holder of gold in the Middle East.
“We have other assets as well and our balance sheet today stands for over $50 billion available to back the value of the Lebanese pound and to back the Lebanese economy,” Salameh added.
The governor vowed to preserve the stability of the national currency and of interest rates, saying that BDL had the means to do so.
“Inflation this year was below 4 percent and our target is to maintain it as such in 2015.”
The Daily Star