Clare:  Government and Central Bank meetings in Davos to shorten the time towards financial and banking reform

1/21/2024    Baghdad

Samir Al-Nusairi

On the sidelines of the Davos Forum in its 54th session held in Switzerland last week, Mr. Prime Minister, his accompanying delegation, and Mr. Governor of the Central Bank continued to hold meetings, understandings, and negotiations with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction, the American bank, J.P. Morgan, and international financial institutions, with the aim of accelerating the procedures that… It is implemented by the government in cooperation with the Central Bank towards achieving financial and banking reform.

In implementation of what was stated in the twelve axis of the government curriculum (financial and banking), in which the government’s program for the financial and banking sector was determined and strategic policies and procedures were drawn up in paragraphs (1-7).

To restructure the general budget, manage public money, reduce the pressure on consumer spending in favor of projects and programs for sustainable development, and pressure public debt to a minimum, and limit external borrowing to investment and service projects. The borrower will repay the loan from the project’s revenues, and establish the Iraq Fund for Development and include it in the general budget in 2023.

Controlling border crossings, reforming the tax and public sector systems, maximizing revenues for economic productive sectors other than oil, and reaching 20% in budget revenues over the next 3 years.

The primary and important goal is to reform the banking and private sector in accordance with what was stated in Paragraph (7), which considers financial and banking reform to be the beginning of reform.

A successful economy, with a focus on structuring and empowering government banks, reconsidering their work, and empowering private banks to be able to truly support investment and development. In fact, the government and the Central Bank have initiated contractual and negotiating procedures with the international auditing and consulting firm Ernst & Young, under the direct supervision and follow-up of the Prime Minister, and his emphasis on the company’s global programs being applicable and different from previous experiences, in a way that ensures achieving the goal according to the time period planned for project completion. Completely.

 And the meeting with the CEO of the American bank JP Morgan on the sidelines of the Davos Forum held in Switzerland and asking him to cooperate with the Central Bank and banks to open accounts for Iraqi banks to organize financing of foreign trade and help accelerate digital transformation applications and the use of electronic payment technologies, in addition to the close follow-up of the Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Bank. Iraqi Central Bank.

With regard to banking reform, the Central Bank made great efforts to implement what was stated in the government curriculum in the face of the challenges facing the reform process, as the regulation of foreign trade financing and digital transformation in the banking sector were achieved in 2023, the near launch of a national lending strategy, and the establishment of a Riyada Bank to finance small and medium enterprises, and work continues to reduce… Fluctuation of the exchange rate of the cash dollar in the parallel market. In general, the Central Bank’s plans aim to achieve my goals:

First – Developing and reclassifying the Iraqi banking system, enhancing citizens’ confidence in it, and providing financial solvency that enables it to meet requests quickly and when required.

2-Transforming banks to their primary function, which is lending for sustainable development.

3– Banks that do not provide loans and banking facilities that help in development lose their meaning as banks, which requires a specific stance towards them from the Central Bank.

4- Banks are the lever of development and the importance of the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank to support banks, develop their functions, and rely on their own capabilities in dealing with reputable global correspondent banks and to be regulated in the global banking system in accordance with international standards and to obtain internationally accredited classification.

5- Withdrawing funds that are outside the banking cycle and entering them into the banking system by providing comprehensive banking products and services to customers without delay, smoothly, easily and transparently.

All of the above objectives, although the period specified for their implementation according to the government timetable ranges between (1-4) years, the strategy of the government and the Central Bank for the year 2024 will shorten the time and achieve most of the above objectives.

There are banks that are moving towards the required development, banks that still need an additional period of time to achieve their goals, and there are troubled banks that are now making exceptional efforts from the central bank and the departments of these banks to rehabilitate them.

What concerns us here is the real functional role of banks in providing loans and banking facilities and the transition from the banking role to the developmental role. There are two important observations that must be taken into consideration with regard to providing loans and banking facilities to stimulate the economy.

First: The nature of the banks’ activities depends on the nature of the activities of the economic sectors, and that the economic activity is concentrated in foreign trade (imports), so it requires controlling imports, supporting the local product, and supporting the private industrial sector, which the government is currently working to promote with calculated executive measures and with the cooperation of all other sectors.

Second: It is necessary to provide a legal environment and extend the authority of the law in order to eliminate the phenomenon of defaulting on loans by making legislative amendments and treating private sector debts in the same manner as government sector debts as premium debts that must be repaid, which will help expand the private banking sector by granting all types of bank financing. .

The other important thing is the transition of the government and private banking sector to a solid and developed economic sector that is committed to international regulations, rules and standards for compliance, anti-money laundering, financial reporting and risk management, and thus to truly be a lever for development.

Contributing to stimulating the economic cycle by activating and supporting financing for small and medium enterprises and large development projects, through which the building of a solid national economy and sustainable development is achieved that ultimately serves the Iraqi people and their aspirations for a better life.

This means that each government or private bank must have a plan with specific goals for the four years specified in the government curriculum and under the supervision and follow-up of the Central Bank in the areas of development of payment systems and modern banking technologies, the transition from dealing in cash to dealing with modern electronic payment methods in accordance with international standards, and the presentation of new banking products to stimulate inclusion. Financial capacity building, training and qualification of human resources, achieving the goal of investing in human capital and developing the structural structure of the banking sector.

Banks also pay attention to applying financial stability standards, which are financial safety indicators such as the capital adequacy ratio, the liquidity ratio, and the profitability ratio such as the ratio of profit and net profit to capital, the ratio of return on assets, the ratio of return on shareholders’ equity, the ratio of activity costs, financial leverage, and the ratio of investment of funds, in addition to adopting indicators to measure efficiency. the performance.    LINK