Syria Expected to Amend Draft Law on Commercial Banking
The Syrian government is expected to amend its draft law on commercial banking in the next three months to allow private banks to own larger stakes in commercial banks in Syria, reported the Daily Star newspaper, quoting Lebanese bankers as saying.
"Syria plans to make drastic changes to the original draft law on private banking to appease those bankers who are against any role for the state in commercial banks," one leading Lebanese banker said during an international investment conference in Damascus last week.
Citing top-level Syrian sources, the banker said that Syria might pass two separate laws on commercial banks, according to the daily.
The first law would allow foreign banks to own 51 percent or more of a private bank in Syria, while the second would allow the Syrian private sector and state to own 51 percent or more of other private banks.
"The details on the draft laws are a bit sketchy, but one thing for sure is that the amended laws are far better than the originals," the banker said.
Damascus, he added, was keen on passing these laws as soon as possible to lure foreign banks into the Syrian market, added the paper.
The Lebanese Central Bank and the Banking Control Commission recommended last month that Syria amend its original draft law on commercial banks, which called for a minimum 51-percent stake for the state in all private banks.
"The Syrians realized that even limited state ownership of a private bank runs against the concept of a free economy," the banker said.
Syria has already granted permits for Fransabank, Societe-Generale Libano-Europeenne de Banque, Banque Europeenne pour le Moyen-Orient (BEMO) and Banque du Liban et d'Outre Mer (BLOM) to open branches in the country's free zones, the daily said.
Bank of Beirut and the Arab Countries is also expected to get a permit soon to open a branch in the Syrian free zones, said the daily – Albawaba.com
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