Figures released by the Central Bank show that the number of credit and debit cards issued in Lebanon reached 268,314 cards in the first quarter of 2000, a 7.73 percent increase from the fourth quarter of 1999.
The number of ATMs rose 3.26 percent to 380 machines on a quarterly basis. The Greater Beirut area had 222 ATMs, accounting for 58.43 percent of the total, followed by Mount Lebanon with 76 (20 percent), the North with 35 (9.21 percent), the Bekaa with 25 (6.6 percent), and the South with 22 (5.8 percent).
The average monthly domestic payments by residents rose 4.55 percent to $11.5 million quarter-on-quarter, while the average monthly payments abroad by residents declined 7.92 percent to $12.8 million for the same period.
Further, the average monthly value of cash withdrawals by residents using ATMs rose 7.61 percent to $38.2 million quarter-on-quarter and increased 8.2 percent to $476,919 by non-residents. Domestic card payments in Lebanese pounds accounted for 12 percent of aggregate payments in all currencies, while local currency withdrawals represented 48.5 percent of the total.
Figures released by the Central Bank for the first quarter of 2000 show that the aggregate amount of subsidized loans to productive sectors in Lebanon reached $191.4 million since the program was established in the first quarter of 1997. The program consists of a 5 percent subsidy on the interest for loans extended in foreign currencies to agriculture, industry, and tourism.
The industrial sector accounted for $130.1 million, or 68 percent of the total, followed by tourism with $49.3 million (25.7 percent) and agriculture with $12 million (6.3 percent).
Subsidized loans rose by $8.1 million (4.42 percent) on a quarterly basis and by $68.64 million (56 percent) year-on-year. Further, subsidized loans extended in Lebanese pounds totaled LL3.537 billion by the end of March. The share of industry stood at 89 percent,122.76
In parallel, total loans extended by specialized banks and benefiting from reserve requirement exemptions and facilities reached LL702.6 billion (about $466.1 million) since the program was established in the first quarter of 1996. Such loans rose by 16.44 percent on a quarterly basis and by 67.3 percent year-on-year.
The industrial sector accounted for 38.2 percent of the total, followed by housing with 25.7 percent, and 24.8 percent for tourism. Services, agriculture and electricity accounted for 5.8 percent, 3.2 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively.
The Central Bank’s concise balance sheet reached LL16,820.143 billion in the first half of October compared to LL16,669.780 billion at the end of September.
Assets in foreign currencies decreased by $257.81 million to $6.283 billion from $6.54 billion at the end of September. Assets in foreign currencies increased by $1.189 billion in 1999 and by $486.78 million in 1998. They declined by $1.06 billion in the first 9 months of this year. — ( Lebanon Invest )