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The governor of Palestine Monetary Authority; Dr. Jihad Al-Wazir announced that there are developments in the banking system performance in the Palestinian territories, pointing out the banks’ assets have increased since 2006 (as a base year) until 2011 by 61.5%, amounting to $ 9 billion. He added, that the total deposits increased by 59% hitting $ 7 billion , while the defaulted loans decreased by 61% ( contributing about 2.6% of the total granted loans which reflect a very low rate) noting that the number of bank branches has risen from 149 branches to 226 branches.
With regard to Palestine Monetary Authority’s plan to increase the banks’ capital and to merge a number of banks together, Dr. Al-Wazir said that the capital of some banks hit $ 5 million while rose to $ 20 million. Since the year 2006 the banks’ capital was raised from $ 20 million to $ 35 million and then to $ 50 million, Stating that the PMA will be raising the banks’ capital to $ 100 million. He added that the PMA started applying banks’ merger, where the number of banks currently reached 18 banks instead of 21 banks and it is expected to merge another four banks in two banks whereby the number of banks will reach 16 banks instead of 18 banks.
Dr. Al-Wazir pointed out that the banks’ merging was affected by the Israeli threats coinciding with the United Nations bid for statehood on September and the Arab spring impacts on many potential investors especially in the Gulf region, adding that the PMA was able to gain these investors again.
He said that the PMA continued the procedures of controlling the International financial crisis through the reserves maintained by the PMA that reached about 15% of the bank’s profits. And pointed out that there are other procedures taken by the PMA to examine the performance and capability of each bank according to ‘’BASEL 2’’ in addition to their capability to handle any crisis. Where a detailed study was prepared taking into account various scenarios that could affect the banks, such as: defaulting to pay their loans and depositors’ sudden deposits’ withdrawal, explaining that the study results showed that banks have maintained a satisfactory ratio of capital adequacy. Dr. Al-Wazir emphasized the independency of the PMA and its commitment to many tasks, especially maintaining the banking stability and customers deposits.
He held many interviews during his visit to Gaza Strip with many private and interested institutions and met during his interview in Gaza chamber of Commerce many businessmen and members of the chamber. Whereby, he discussed the PMA’s success during the years of division in preserving the banking system in Gaza Strip which ensures the fast transfers of money to Gaza as soon as the blockage is over and reconstruction of Gaza that will revive Gaza’s economy. He added, that $ 7 million had been transferred to Gaza Strip since the division, about NIS 350 million on a monthly basis for wages and salaries, in addition to electricity, European Union , victims of work’s accidents and the national insurance in Israel, international institutions’ staff salaries and saving accounts for businessmen and importers in the west banks’ conversions. Noting that Gaza Strip suffers from a liquidity problem and some banks pay wages and salaries in the dollar and dinar currencies leading employees to suffer from currency exchanges risk. The PMA is trying to solve this problem by pumping more Shekels Shekels to Gaza’s banks and pressuring on banks to reduce the currency exchange differences for the dollar and dinar. Mahmoud Al-Yazji, the head of the Palestinian Chamber of Commerce, showed the most important problems facing the private sector and banks in Gaza Strip .Asking for a greater banks’ role through establishing investment projects that will help in raising the economy and solving the unemployment problems that increased with the blockade. He added that there should be interests in developing the community by establishing schools, hospitals, support relief projects and support SME lending programs through long term loans and low interest rates and facilitating the industrial sector procedures which suffers from blockade and war effects.