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Salameh: BDL won’t subscribe to T-bills at 1 pct interest

Central Bank governor Riad Salameh in Beirut, Sept. 27, 2018. (The Daily Star/Mohamad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Banque du Liban has no intention of subscribing to Treasury bills at 1 percent interest, Central Bank Gov. Riad Salameh said Wednesday, but added that BDL would seek new alternatives to help the Finance Ministry cut the deficit.

The governor was referring to reports that BDL would consider subscribing to LL11 trillion ($7.3 billion) in Treasury bills to help the Finance Ministry reduce the cost of debt servicing by $700 million.

The governor did not elaborate on a possible new mechanism to secure $700 million for the Finance Ministry in 2019.

Salameh made the remarks on the sidelines of a conference held at the ESA Business School.

The Central Bank chief reiterated that the monetary situation was stable and denied any intention to reschedule the public debt.

He added that Lebanon was committed to paying its dues on time.

Lebanese banks have also expressed no interest in subscribing to the LL11 trillion T-bills with 1 percent interest.

At the ESA, Salameh gave a speech on BDL’s policy on employment and end-of-service benefits.

“For many years, Banque du Liban has been keen to keep abreast of the development of the institution [the Central Bank] on the one hand and the financial infrastructure in Lebanon on the other.

“This development has led to a change in the bank’s functional needs which necessitated restructuring the bank in terms of separating and establishing administrative units, with the early retirement scheme being adopted on the principle of joint profit for both the employee and the institution,” Salameh said.

He added that based on this plan, 503 employees had benefited from the project.

“Since 2012, approximately 144 people left BDL, whether as a retiree according to legal age, resignation, dismissal or death. But 143 people were hired during that period. Thus, recruitment is made in accordance with the vacancies in the bank, and not due to early retirement,” the governor said.

In total, BDL moved from approximately 1,337 employees in 1997 to 876 at present, excluding the Monitoring Committee and the Investigation Commission.

“There are approximately 836 retirees registered in the bank’s records. ... The necessary instructions have been given to the human resources directorate in coordination with the concerned directorates to develop a project for retirees which aims to [pay them their dues] at a minimal cost,” Salameh said, without elaborating.

“I [now] return to the main objective of this ceremony, which is to honor retirees from the bank, and I am here to emphasize the appreciation of the institution to those being celebrated and their predecessors and those who will follow them,” the governor said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 18, 2019, on page 4.

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