Lebanon – Central Bank sold $2.2 bln Eurobonds

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BEIRUT: The Central Bank has sold $2.2 billion of sovereign Eurobonds and swapped LL6 trillion of 2013 and 2014 certificates of deposit with longer maturity ones over the past two weeks, Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh disclosed Wednesday.

“We have significantly improved our balance sheet quantitatively. We realized all of this during the past three weeks,” Salameh told the Business and Financial Forum held in Beirut.

The Central Bank, Salameh added, would take measures to keep inflation below 4 percent in spite of a $1.4 billion financial stimulus package, launched last month.

“The first primary needs of the Lebanese economy are confidence and initiatives that boost local demand without triggering inflation,” Salameh said.

The governor added that high liquidity in the banking sector allowed the lenders to reschedule private sector outstanding loans.

He added that foreign currency assets had increased, reducing the impact of the $1.5 billion deficit in balance of payments. “The deficit in 2012 was less than in 2011, when it had reached $2 billion,” he said.

Salameh reiterated that the Central Bank expected the economy to grow by another 2 to 3 percent once the stimulus package made its full impact later this year.

Also at the forum, Economy Minister Nicolas Nahas called for passing the public-private partnership law.

“Our aims cannot be realized without an economic policy that believes in an active partnership between the private and public sectors and that boosts competitiveness to sustain economic development,” he said.

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