CBO Holds its Fourth Board Meeting of the Year
The Central Bank of Oman's Board of Governors which met here for the fourth time this year on Monday 22nd December 2014, took important decisions pertaining to the banking sector.
The meeting which was chaired by H.E. Dr. Ali bin Mohammed bin Moosa, Deputy Chairman of CBO's Board of Governors, reviewed the Economic and Financial report as on 30th September 2014, as well as the activity report of CBO's Departments during the period under review.
In its meeting, the Board approved the application of MB Holding Company to allow it to sell 15.211% of its shares in Ahli Bank to the Oman Investment fund Holding Co., Oman International development and Investment Co. and The Zubair Corporation.
In addition to reviewing the actions taken by the Central Bank of Oman and commercial banks operating in Oman with regard to the financing of Small and Medium enterprises, the Board also endorsed CBO's budget for 2015, CBO's pension fund annual budget for 2015 and Bank Deposit Insurance Scheme (BDIS) annual budget for 2015.
Likewise the Board also took stock of the recommendations included in the report of the mission of International Monetary Fund & World Bank on Financial Sector Assessment program (FSAP) and directed CBO's executive management to implement the said recommendations as far as possible.
CBO's financial position as at the end of November 2014 and the performance of CBO's external investments during the period under review also came up for Board scrutiny during its meeting.
The Board also examined the financial and administrative matters of CBO and has taken necessary decisions.
45th Issue of Government Bonds Receives Overwhelming Response
The Central Bank of Oman's 45th issue of government development bonds worth RO200 million has evoked an overwhelming response and has been oversubscribed in line with previous GDB issues.
The subscription which was closed on December 7th 2014 recorded an oversubscription by over RO 122 Million at RO 322.311 Million as against the stipulated issue amount of RO 200 Million. The average yield equivalent percent to the accepted price was 2.08 percent at price of RO 104.350, while the highest yield equivalent was at 2.34 percent for RO 103.100 and the lowest was at 1.54 percent for RO 107.005.
The CBO's Monetary Operations Department (MOD) released the online auction results on December 9th 2014 at its premises in the presence of senior MOD officials.
The 5-year Bond will be issued on 15th December 2014, and will mature on 15th December 2019 carrying a coupon rate of 3.00% p.a.
National Committee on AML-CFT Reviews Pertinent Issues
The National Committee for Anti Money Laundering and Combating Terrorism Financing which held its first meeting of the year on Monday, December 8th 2014 reviewed major pertinent issues concerning Anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing laws in the country.
Held at the CBO premises, the meeting was chaired by H.E. Hamoud bin Sangour al- Zadjali, The Executive President of the CBO who is also the Chairman of the National Committee. All the members of the National Committee hailing from organizations such as ROP, FIU, Public Prosecution, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Ministry of Justice, Capital Market Authority, Ministry of Housing, and Ministry of Social Development also attended the meeting.
The meeting discussed a number of issues listed in the agenda and took appropriate decisions in this respect. The Committee welcomed the decision of the Sultanate assuming the chairmanship of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Work Group for 2015 along with hosting the upcoming 21st General Meeting of the Group in the same year.
The Committee also reviewed the executive stance of the Technical Cooperation Program with the International Monetary Fund and the anticipated visit of the IMF experts in January 2015.
Additionally, the Committee reviewed the status quo of the project for amending the Law on Combating Money Laundering and Financing Terrorism issued under Royal Decree No. (79/2010) in addition to examining the findings of the 3rd regular follow-up report on the Law on Combating Money Laundering and Financing Terrorism in the Sultanate of Oman by the Regional Financial Work Group.
The report is an analysis of the actions taken and implemented in the Sultanate as a party to the international standards framework and the joint evaluation systems developed for combating money laundering and terrorism financing.
Likewise, the Director of the Financial Investigation Unit at Royal Oman Police reviewed the Unit's activities, events and achievements for the year 2014 together with its action plan and program for the upcoming year.
Other issues listed on the agenda were also discussed by the Committee and appropriate decisions were accordingly taken.
45th GDB Issue Worth OMR 200 Million Announced
The Central Bank of Oman has announced a new Government Development Bonds issue worth OMR 200 million with a maturity period of five years. The current issue will carry a coupon rate of 3 per cent per annum.
According to a release from Monetary Operations Department, the issue will be open for subscription between December 1st and December7th 2014, while the auction will take place on Tuesday, December 9th, 2014. The issue settlement date will be December 15th, 2014 the release said.
Further details indicated that the interest on the new bonds will be paid biannually on June 15th and December 15th every year until the maturity date which falls on December 15th, 2019.
The investors are required to apply for these bonds only through the competitive bidding process and they should submit their bids through the licensed banks operating in the Sultanate.
However, investors with applications of OMR1 million and above can directly submit their bids to CBO after getting them endorsed from their respective banks, the CBO statement advised.
The release further informed that the bonds are direct and unconditional obligations of the Government of Oman and can be used as a collateral security to obtain loans from any local licensed bank. They can also be traded at prevailing market rates through the Muscat Securities Market (MSM).
The details of the bonds allotted will be recorded in the register maintained by the Muscat Clearing & Depositary Company. Prospectus and application forms can be obtained from any licensed bank operating in the Sultanate.
The issue is open to all investors of any nationality residing in the Sultanate only and those who are residing outside the country are not eligible to subscribe.
It may be noted that the previous GDB issue - 44th and 43rd - which opened for subscription in November 2013 and August 2013 respectively, were worth OMR 100 million.
The 44th issue carried a coupon rate of 3 percent, while the 43rd issue carried a coupon rate of 2.75 percent per annum.
However, the 42nd Issue of GDB which opened for subscription between April 28th and May 6th 2013 was worth OMR 80 million and had a maturity period of seven years. It carried a coupon rate of 4.25 percent per annum.
CBO Holds Annual Meeting with External Auditors of Banks/FLCs
The Central Bank of Oman held a meeting with external auditors of Banks/FLCs on Wednesday, November 12th 2014 to discuss the topics of mutual interest, fallout and progress on the last years agenda, in addition to several other topics of importance to the banking sector.
Inaugurating the two-hour long session, H.E. The Executive President observed that this meeting was a useful forum to exchange views, expectations and proposals for betterment of the banking sector and that it required external auditors 'continuous cooperation.
H.E. called upon the auditors to maintain high degree of professionalism and ethics while conducting audit of the banking institutions. "External audit supplements the efforts of the regulators in containing risks associated with banks. Therefore, CBO attaches high importance on the quality of audit conducted by the external auditors," H.E. said.
Noting that banking supervision was continuously evolving under Basel Committee guidelines, H.E. felt that it would be beneficial, if external auditors endeavored to guide and support the banks in implementing and better understanding of these guidelines during initial years of implementation.
"Supervisory expectations from external auditors are very high and therefore, Basel Committee on Banking Supervision has issued a consultative paper on External Audits of Banks. CBO also emphasis on External Auditors taking note of guiding principles in the said paper and expects them to follow the most stringent standards on quality control at the engagement level," H.E. remarked.
Referring to rise in the IT related frauds, H.E. said frauds and attempted frauds in banks are persisting problems, and with the advent of newer technology, cybercrimes were assuming larger proportions.
"External auditor has a significant role to play in this regard and we would be discussing this issue in detail," H.E. added.
He said that there was an urgent need for the stakeholders to take immediate action and deploy corrective measures.
Following H.E.'s address, Ernst & Young made a brief power point presentation on "Accounting Standards IFRS - 9."
Other topics which came up for discussions at the meeting included, deliberations on the supervisory issues relating to compliance and incidents of frauds, requirement for change in the Auditor's assurance format to cover the new capital disclosures norms, Submission of audited financials by SMEs, Challenges of Islamic Banking in Oman, Requirements of IFRS-9 provisioning and IFRS-15 Revenue management.
In all about 50 officials from BSD, BED and BDD, besides representatives from the external auditing firms such as E&Y, Deloitte Touché, KPMG, PwC etc., participated in the meeting deliberations.
CBO Issues Commemorative Silver Coin to Celebrate 44th National Day
In celebration of the 44th National Day of the Sultanate, the Central Bank of Oman has issued a silver commemorative coin depicting an image of the Oman Council's Building.
According to a press release issued here on Tuesday November 11th 2014, this commemorative coin is a Legal Tender for its face value and has a Coat of Arms (Khanjar), the name of the country (Sultanate of Oman), the name of Central Bank of Oman, and face value in Arabic and English on the obverse side.
While on the reverse side, the silver coin depicts an image of the Oman Council's Building.
The release further stated that the coin weighing about 28.28 gms, in denomination of R.O 1 can be purchased from Central Bank of Oman at a price of R.O. 15
CBO Board Holds its Third Meeting of the Year
The Central Bank of Oman's Board of Governors which met here for the third time this year on Monday 29th September 2014, took important decisions pertaining to the banking sector.
The meeting which was chaired by H.E. Dr. Ali bin Mohammed bin Moosa, Deputy Chairman of CBO's Board of Governors, reviewed the Economic and Financial report as on 30th June 2014, as well as the activity report of CBO's Departments during the period under review.
In the meeting, the Board approved the application of Oman Investment Fund to allow it to possess shares of Tageer Finance Company by 33.632%.
The Board also approved to nominate and select five members out of a total seven candidates for membership of High Sharia' Supervisory Authority in the Central Bank of Oman. It also approved to nominate the secretary for the above mentioned Authority.
In addition, the Board reviewed the Business performance and Regulatory Restrictions of Islamic Bank, and Islamic windows operating in Oman. The Board also endorsed the annual Budget of the College of Banking and Financial Studies (CBFS) for 2014-2015.
Besides reviewing the actions taken by the Central Bank of Oman and commercial banks operating in Oman with regard to the financing of small and medium enterprises, the Board also endorsed the strategic plan of the Central Bank of Oman for the period 2014-2016.
Likewise in the meeting, the board also took stock of CBO's financial position as at the end of August 2014, and reviewed the performance of CBO's external investments during the period under review.
The Board also examined the financial and administrative matters of CBO and has taken necessary decisions.
CBO Issues Revised Instructions on Foreign Currency Deposit Facility
A Master Circular – BM 1124, issued recently by Central Bank has announced repealing of all its previous circulars on foreign currency deposit facility for licensed banks, and has announced a revised set of instructions to be followed by all the licensed banks operating in the Sultanate. The current circular supersedes all the other preceding circulars issued so far in this regard.
The Circular issued from H.E. The Executive President's Office said: "The Central Bank of Oman has in place, since March 19, 1979, a foreign currency deposit facility for licensed banks. This Master Circular consolidates the currently applicable instructions and replaces all the preceding Circulars/instructions on the deposit facility."
As per the revised rules, the CBO will accept deposits in foreign currencies from the Licensed Banks only in USD, Euro and Pound Sterling. The minimum acceptable amount will be five (5) million units of the respective currencies (i.e., U.S. dollar 5 million, Euro 5 million, and Sterling 5 million).
The Master Circular further stated the deposits will be accepted for a minimum duration of one day to a maximum of 3 months. Likewise, the interest rates paid on these deposits shall be in conformity with the prevailing rates in the international markets less a margin set by the Central Bank of Oman subject to change from time to time.
For full copy of the circular kindly click here.
H.E Leads Sultanate's Delegation to Algeria (14/09/2014)
H. E. Hamood Sangour Al Zadjali - the Executive President of the Central Bank of Oman - will head the Sultanate's delegation to attend the 38th regular session of the Arab Monetary Authorities and Central Banks Committee which will be held in Algeria, on 14 September 2014.
The meeting will discuss the unified Arab Economic Report of 2014, the recommendations of the 23rd meeting of the Arab Banking Supervision Committee, and the recommendations of the 10th meeting of the Arab Committee of Payment and Settlement Systems. The meeting will also see delegates sharing their different experiences among themselves.
Likewise, the meeting will also discuss the comprehensive study on the viability of establishing regional arrangements and the settlement of the Pan - Arab Payment Settlement, in addition to other issues of common interest and concern to the Arab Banking Sector.
CBO Issues Warning on Prevalence of Disappearing Ink (06/09/2014)
The Central Bank of Oman has issued a fresh warning to all the financial institutions in the country including banks cautioning them about the prevalence of a vanishing ink in the local market, which can be used by fraudsters to commit forgery.
In an official warning note, the CBO requested all banks, finance & leasing companies and exchange houses in Oman to exercise great caution when signing any official documents.
The CBO notice also explained that the (said) ink (in the signed document) disappears within an hour, without leaving a trace, thereby giving an opportunity for fraudsters to commit forgery in financial and commercial dealings.
"This is why we request all banks, finance & leasing companies and exchange houses in Oman to be careful, take preventive measures and ask everybody to use their own pen when signing an official document," the circular noted.
Oman tops in fight against terror funding
by Oman Observer (03/09/2014)
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BASEL, Switzerland — Oman stood first at the Arab and Gulf level in anti-money laundering (AML) and terrorism financing index 2014 published by the Basel Institute on Governance, headquartered in Switzerland.
The Sultanate also came 29th at the global level out of 162 countries; a good improvement in this field. The 2014 report also pointed out that this reflects the efforts made by the Sultanate’s government and the National Commission for Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing, as well as the Financial Intelligence Unit at the Royal Oman Police (ROP).
The Basel AML index is composed for 14 indicators that assess the performance of countries on a number of indicators, such as corruption, finance of terrorism and money laundering risks. It also weighs the transparency, the political risks and the legal liabilities. Based on the information released by the Financial Action Task Force, the Sultanate is the lowest at the Gulf and Arab level of being at risk of money laundering and terrorism financing. The conclusion is based on the assessment conducted for the institutional legal system in the countries covered by the survey.
Over the past years, the Sultanate has been exerting great efforts to update its administrative and oversight systems. The Basel Institute on Governance is an independent not-for-profit competence centre working globally with public and private organisations in corruption prevention and public governance, corporate governance and compliance, anti-money laundering, criminal law enforcement and the recovery of stolen assets.
Roundtable on Liquidity Management
The International Islamic Liquidity Management Corporation (IILM) and Thomson Reuters jointly organized a Roundtable on Liquidity management on 6-7 August 2014 in London, UK. The Roundtable was attended by HE Hamood Sangoor Al Zadjali and the Governors of other central banks including Dr. Mohammad Y. Al-Hashel, Governor, Central Bank of Kuwait, Sultan Bin Nasser Al Suwaidi, Governor of Central Bank of the UAE and Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Governor, Bank Negara Malaysia and senior bankers and experts from various international organisations.
The 2-day Roundtable discussed the magnitude and implications of liquidity management challenges with a view to enhance financial stability. The discussions covered legal, Sharia and regulatory aspects of Liquidity Management relating to Islamic financial institutions.
Giving a presentation on a Global Liquidity Management-Regulators' Perspective, HE Hamood Sangour Al Zadjali, The Executive President emphasized on cooperation among regulators to prevent excessive liquidity surges in global financial markets, having prudent domestic policies for vibrant and liquid secondary market and cooperative measures among the regulators for the provision of liquidity in times of stress. HE stressed on the need for formulation of forward-looking secondary market policies aligned with a strong and simplified global liquidity framework in order to help in minimizing the threats to both global and domestic financial stability.
Mr. Saud Al Busaidi, Manager BDD and In charge Islamic Banking CBO, accompanied His Excellency in this event.
BDIS Public Awareness Campaign launched today
A project that was born in April 2012 will come to its final stage when CBO launches the Bank Deposits Insurance Scheme (BDIS) Public Awareness Campaign today (Monday – 30th June) with a special supplement in four national newspapers viz., Oman , Al Watan , Times of Oman and Oman Daily Observer.
This campaign is to create awareness among the public, to strengthen their confidence in the banking sector and improve their knowledge on the scheme. The CBO supplement includes the benefits of the scheme, information on member banks, audited financial statements, the CEOs' messages and positive information about the banking sector in the country.
CBO Banking Operations Department Manager Mr. Bader Al Aghbari reassured that "the scheme is aimed at providing full relief to the "Small- Time Depositors" who constitute over 80% of the deposit holders in banks, providing immediate cash of 20,000 Omani Rials before the liquidity process in the case of bankruptcy of any member bank". Oman is the only Middle Eastern country with an explicit deposit insurance scheme, which has been in existence since 1995.
As part of the BDIS campaign, all member banks including their branches have issued exclusive brochures on the BDIS scheme and new account opening forms that clearly includes a clause that the relevant account is covered under BDIS. In addition, all entrances to the banks' premises will have prominent "BDIS" Logo stickers that will be visible to the customers.
The banks will also maintain sufficient cash in case of extraordinary withdrawals from customers in reaction to the scheme. All 17 member banks have pledged their unstinted support to this campaign and will take further action for the benefit of their customers as a going concern.
Speaking on this momentous occasion Mr. Bader thanked "His Excellency's guidance, encouragement and trust in achieving this goal from the time this project commenced in April 2012. Your generosity and approval of our project-plans has always been a crucial motivating factor for all of us."
He also thanked everyone involved in this project who strived hard to make it a success. "It is tribute to everyone's efforts that a very elegant insert is before your eyes. We are also proud of this great achievement from BDIS and CBO point of view and hope for further improvements in the coming years."
For details kindly click below:-
Bank Deposits Insurance Scheme - Awareness Campaign (English)
Bank Deposits Insurance Scheme - Awareness Campaign (Arabic)
The CBO releases its Annual Report 2013
The Report presents an assessment of Oman's macroeconomic developments during 2013 and analyses important sectors of the economy namely output, employment and prices; oil and gas; public finance; money, banking and financial institutions; and foreign trade and balance of payments. The Annual Report also carries the audited balance sheet of the CBO as well as important CBO regulations issued during 2013 and the first half of 2014.The full Report may be accessed under the title Publications.
CBO Releases April Monthly Bulletin
Review of Banking and Monetary Developments - April 2014
Promptly supported by CBO, the banking sector in Oman continued its positive growth trend with major accretion to bank deposits and strong growth in loans and advances.
According to the April 2014 bulletin, considerable progress has been achieved in the recent period in strengthening the regulatory and supervisory norms with an emphasis on risk management, financial stability, capital adequacy and asset quality.
The bulletin which is released on a monthly basis outlines the banking and monetary developments in the Sultanate. The latest bulletin said that the economic growth in Oman can be attributed to factors such as the sustained high level price of Omani crude oil in the international markets, increased domestic demand, large public expenditure and accommodative monetary policy pursued by the CBO.
As per the report the gross domestic product (GDP) at current prices rose by 2.8 percent to RO 30.6 billion during 2013. On the price front, inflation has been well contained with the average annual inflation based on the CPI for the Sultanate at 1.0 percent in April 2014.
The combined balance sheet of commercial banks recorded positive growth in all major banking aggregates. Total assets of commercial banks grew by 12 percent to RO 24.2 billion in April 2014 compared to RO 21.6 billion a year ago.
Of the total assets, credit disbursement accounted for 65 percent and increased by 10.6 percent over the year to RO 15.8 billion as at the end of April 2014. While credit to the Government declined by 39.8 percent, credit to the private sector and public enterprises increased by 10.5 percent and 11 percent, respectively.
Commercial banks' overall investments in securities increased by 27.2 percent to RO 3.3 billion as at the end of April 2014 from RO 2.6 billion a year ago. Of total investments, CBO CDs stood at RO 1.9 billion while investment in Government development bonds (GDBs) stood at RO 569.2 million as at the end of April 2014.
Likewise, On the liabilities side of the balance sheet, total deposits held with commercial banks also witnessed a significant rise of 13.3 percent to RO 16.8 billion in April 2014 from RO 14.8 billion in April 2013. Government deposits with commercial banks increased by 17.8 percent to RO 5.1 billion, while deposits of public enterprises increased by 12.8 percent to RO 1.1 billion during the same period.
Private sector deposits, which constituted 62 percent of total deposits with commercial banks, increased by 13 percent to RO 10.4 billion in April 2014 from RO 9.2 billion a year ago.
CBO's policy interest rate for absorption of surplus liquidity in the form of CBO CDs of 28 days maturity, however declined to 0.128 percent in April 2014 from 0.130 percent in April 2013. CBO's policy rate for injection of liquidity, i.e. repo rate remained unchanged at 1 percent since March 2012.
The overnight RO domestic inter-bank lending rate declined from 0.148 percent in April 2013 to 0.124 percent in April 2014. However, the domestic interest rate structure of commercial banks, both deposit and lending rates softened during this period. The weighted average interest rate on RO deposits declined from 1.269 percent in April 2013 to 1.081 percent in April 2014, while the weighted average RO lending rate decreased from 5.559 percent to 5.281 percent during the same period.
CBO Holds its Second Board Meeting of the Year
The Board approved the application of:
- Oman International Development & Investment Company to increase its share in National Finance Company
- Oman Hotels & Tourism Co. to increase its share in United Finance Company
- Finance Companies to finance construction of warehouses
The Central Bank of Oman's Board of Governors which met here for the second time this year on Tuesday 20th May 2014, took important decisions pertaining to the banking sector.
The meeting which was chaired by H.E. Dr. Ali bin Mohammed bin Moosa, Deputy Chairman of CBO's Board of Governors, reviewed the Economic and Financial report as on 31st March 2014, as well as the activity report of CBO's Departments during the period under review.
The Board approved the application of Oman International Development & Investment Company to increase its share in National Finance Company from 24.22% to 35%, and the application of Oman Hotels & Tourism Co. to increase its share in United Finance Company from 20.44% to 35%.
Additionally, the Board also approved the application of Finance Companies granting them permission to finance construction of warehouses.
Besides reviewing the actions taken by the Central Bank of Oman and commercial banks operating in Oman with regard to the financing of small and medium enterprises, the Board also reviewed Bank Deposits Insurance Scheme Fund (BDIS) and examined its annual report for the year 2013.
The board also reviewed the annual financial report of CBO as on 31st December 2013.
Likewise, the board also took stock of the recommendations included in the report of IMF & World Bank Mission on Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) and directed CBO's executive management to ensure the implementation of the recommendations to a maximum possible extent.
CBO's financial position as at the end of April 2014 and the performance of its external investments during the period under review also came up for the Board scrutiny.
The Activity Report of all the CBO departments was also reviewed during the meeting.
The financial and administrative matters of CBO also came up for discussions in the meeting and the Board indicated that it has taken necessary decisions in this regard.
CBO Releases the Second Financial Stability Report
Central Bank of Oman which released its second issue of Financial Stability Report on Tuesday, 20th May 2014 indicated that the macro-financial outlook of the country looked quite comfortable with scenarios of GDP growth, inflation and fiscal place being quite positive.
Likewise a series of CBO stress tests also indicated that the banking sector was also well placed in Oman, and that there were no imminent problems or threats to the sector.
As per the Report, in 2013 the overall position of financial stability in Oman remained comfortable with outlook remaining the same for 2014 subject to oil prices remaining stable.
Oman's growth scenario continued to look comfortable in 2013 with global activities on rails backed by comfortable economic recovery in the advanced economies. A sustained growth process in Oman was a manifestation of an improved diversification of the economy reflected in terms of increase in the excess of contribution of non-oil sector to GDP growth vis-à-vis the oil sector.
Even under severely stressed scenarios of lower global growth and adverse oil prices movement in 2014 and 2015, Oman's real GDP growth would decrease to only 1.9 - 2.5 per cent in 2014 and 1.6 - 2.2 per cent in 2015. Corporate profitability has been on an uptrend since 2011 while the stock market was buoyant in 2013 backed by investors' confidence, both domestic and overseas. Oman's consumer price inflation on an average basis fell to 1.1 per cent in 2013 from 2.9 per cent in 2012.
With positive fiscal balance for 2013 (0.8 per cent of nominal GDP) and low debt-GDP ratio (6.9 per cent) fiscal sector risk continued to remain low in Oman. Oman's current account continued to be in surplus consecutively in the four successive years between 2010 and 2013.
Financial sector showed robustness with capital position and asset quality remaining healthy during 2013. The Year 2014 is set to repeat the position even under severely stressed hypothesized scenarios.
Banking sector in Oman continued to remain healthy and efficient. Total loans business (inclusive of the Islamic banking finance) increased by 9 per cent and the component of the private sector credit to non-oil GDP also rose by 6 per cent over the last year. The gross Non Performing Loan (NPL) ratio marginally declined to 2.0 per cent over the course of the year with the net NPL ratio staying put at around 0.58 per cent.
The existing loans portfolio of banks was well covered against expected losses through adequate provisions with coverage ratio (provisions to NPLs) of 72 per cent (138 per cent including general provisions). The benchmark Capital to Risk Weighted Assets Ratio (CRAR) of the banking sector remained steady at 16.4 per cent. At system level, even the core capital segment was sufficient enough to meet both the stipulations of CBO (at 12 per cent) and BIS (at 8 per cent).
CBO undertakes Stress Testing exercise for the banking sector which indicated no immediate threat to the solvency of the banking sector in Oman. Should all the applied stressed scenarios materialize, the banking system would face shortfall of capital which worked out to only about 0.37 per cent of the risk-weighted assets and 19.39 per cent of the net profits of the banking system.
Similarly, the results of the macro stress tests showed that under severe concurrent negative shocks for GDP growth, interest rates, inflation, stock market prices, the default rates in the banking sector would tend to rise but only a few banks would feel pressure of capital requirements. The Liquidity stress tests too indicate comfortable position. Under assumed liquidity shocks, given the position as at end-December 2013, banks would be able to sustain for an average of 19 days with cash and 21 days with cash and securities.
Financial Leasing Companies (FLCs) posted increased level of pre-tax profits during 2013. Their profitability indicators, ROA and ROE, supported by strong NIM and stable NPL ratio, remained healthy at 3 per cent and 12.8 per cent respectively. The overall MSM 30 index gained 18.6 per cent with the trading volumes increasing by 88 per cent to reach 8.2 billion shares during 2013.
Financial Stability Reports (FSR) are an important communication tools by Central Banks to disseminate information on potential points of distress in the economy and the financial system so that action can be initiated on them early so as to contain possible damage they might inflict should they occur. In Oman, publication of FSR was made a part of the overall macro-financial surveillance system since 2013.
CBO Asks Public to Use ATMs & CDMs For Cash Transactions
The Central bank of Oman has called upon the general public of the country to increasingly use the ATM & CD Machines while conducting routine transactions such as withdrawals or deposits instead of opting for physically handling cash at the banks.
While the CBO stressed that the public are open to opt for a cash transaction mode of their choice based on their convenience and desire; it felt that cash transactions are posing serious handling issues and other inconveniences to all the concerned parties.
"Physical handling of cash is a security risk by itself for all concerned, including the public," a CBO statement said in an advisory notice to public issued on Thursday, May 15th 2014.
In the light of the above observations, Central Bank of Oman appeals to all members of public to utilize to the maximum extent possible non-cash avenues while holding all sorts of transactions including salary and other routine payments/withdrawals, the statement said.
The CBO statement underlined the importance of using ATM and Cash Deposit machines stating that it will significantly increase the efficiency of the entire payment system in the country.
"Increased use of ATM and electronic modes will benefit both the public and banks and will make the entire payment system more speedy and efficient. It will lead to optimum use of the existing infrastructure and encourage further improvements therein," the statement added.
In the latest appeal - which is also based on the requests from commercial banks - the public have also been requested to cooperate with banks in this connection. In particular, it will be helpful if they (public) use the ATMs and CDMs for cash transactions to the maximum permissible limits - even though non-cash transactions by means of crossed/A/c-payee cheques and national payment systems of CBO will be the more preferred option.
CBO Extends Red-Carpet Welcome to His Majesty 'King of Spain'
H.E. Darwish bin Ismail Al Bulushi, Minister Responsible for Financial Affairs, His Excellency Dr. Ali Moosa, the Deputy Chairperson of CBO, and H.E. Hamood Sangour Al Zadjali, The Executive President on Thursday, May 01, 2014 collectively extended a warm red carpet reception to His Majesty Juan Carlos I, the King of Spain who came visiting to CBO as part of his three day-tour to the Sultanate.
Clad in a pristine two-piece blue formal suit and a lucent yellow tie, His Majesty the King of Spain stepped out of his blue Mercedes car at about 9:45 am in the morning to a warm and rosy welcome from the CBO officials.
HM was accompanied by H.E. Eng. Ali bin Masoud bin Ali al Sunaidy, Minister of Commerce and Industry, the Minister-in-waiting for the visiting royal dignitary.
HM Juan Carlos I was escorted into the CBO building by the top brass of CBO and other officials from Diwan of Royal Court, who were in tow as part of his convoy.
Welcoming the royal guest and his entourage, H.E. The Executive President presented a small briefing on the performance of the economy and the banking sector in general in the country.
Following the reception, HM the King who was treated with the traditional Omani coffee was later on escorted to the Currency Museum. H.E. The Executive President took HM through the museum explaining to him the historical origin of the currencies in Oman during the period 1801 to 1970.
Speaking on the occasion, HM The 'King of Spain' commended the Omani banking sector and the prevalent financial practices here in Oman, which he said, helped the country in safeguarding itself from the recent global financial crisis.
H.E. The Executive President, explained that the Sultanate has been providing a conducive and favorable atmosphere for foreign investors to invest in Omani projects and the country was looking forward to have more of foreign investments in future.
CBO Holds Annual Bankers Meeting 2014
The Central Bank of Oman organized the Annual Bankers meeting here on Monday April 28th 2014 at its premises, wherein CEOs and GMs of the commercial banks operating in the Sultanate converged to discuss pertinent banking matters and issues of common interest.
Addressing a gathering of about 80 bankers including top CBO officials, H.E. Hamood Sangour Al Zadjali, the Executive President of CBO, expressed satisfaction that year 2013 was yet another successful year for our banking sector with positive growth in deposits, advances and profits.
H.E. The Executive President expressed his pleasure that as at the end of 2013, banks remained well-capitalized and were able to adhere to Basel-III capital adequacy norms, which were issued by the CBO in November 2013.
"I congratulate the banking community for their sincere efforts in meeting the enhanced and stringent Basel-III capital guidelines," H.E. said adding that Basel-III is not simply about asking banks to hold more capital, but it is an opportunity for banks "to improve the quality, consistency and transparency of their capital, which will help them to absorb cyclical shocks and losses."
Commenting on the recent global financial crisis and its fallout, H.E. noted that the failure of systemically important banks can send shock waves across the financial system and cause irreparable damage to the real economy. "Therefore, such banks require focused regulatory and supervisory attention," H.E. said.
Accordingly, H.E. informed that following the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) guidelines on the subject, CBO has issued a concept paper on D-SIBs (Domestic Systemically Important Banks) in December 2013.
H.E. however noted that while capital regulations were intended to promote the safety of the individual financial institutions and systemic stability, care should be taken to ensure that the banks remain competitive vis-à-vis the banks of other countries.
Referring to the IMF's "Staff Discussion Note", which urged all GCC regulators to maintain higher capital than required by minimum international standards due to high macro-economic volatility in the GCC region, H.E. called upon the banking sector to urgently tone up their risk management framework and advised them not to get carried away with their past performances.
Commenting on the progress of banks with regard to extending the stipulated percentage of credit to SME sector, H.E. observed that some of the banks were lagging behind on this front.
Speaking about the Salary protection scheme, H.E. added that CBO attaches a lot of importance to implementation of Salary Protection Scheme of Ministry of Manpower. "While we appreciate the proactive steps taken by a few banks to implement the Salary Protection Scheme, I urge other banks to do the needful to fulfill the intended purpose behind the Salary Protection Scheme," H.E. said pepping up banks to comply with the requirements," H.E. said.
Marking the advent of Islamic banks as an important development in the country, H.E. noted that there are two full-fledged Islamic banks and six Islamic windows in the country with a total branch network of 28 Islamic banking entities (IBEs) as at the end of the year 2013. H.E. further stated that as at the end of first year of operations, total assets of Islamic Banking sector stood at RO 808 million, deposits at RO 170 million and Islamic financing at RO 425 million.
Commenting further, His Excellency pointed out that there was a need to create awareness on Islamic banking, its products and services, besides also developing innovative deposit and financing products. He said that nurturing human resources and building human capacities in Islamic banking should be one of the top priorities for the bankers.
"Capacity building of Omani staff for offering Shari'a-compliant financial services is going to be a major challenge in the days ahead. I request the senior bankers present here to pay special attention to nurture their human resources in the area of Islamic banking," H.E. advised.
Banking and Monetary Developments Review - February 2014
Promptly supported by CBO, the banking sector in Oman has been actively participating in the development of the economy by providing credit to the needy sectors such as the SMEs in the country. The CBO is also working towards enhancing the role of the banking sector in economic development by encouraging credit growth to other productive sectors, and promoting a saving behavior among the country's population.
Economic growth in Oman can be attributed to factors such as the sustained high level price of Omani crude oil in the international markets, increased domestic demand, large public expenditure and accommodative monetary policy pursued by the CBO.
According to the February 2014 bulletin, the gross domestic product (GDP) at current prices rose by 2.6 percent to RO 22.7 billion during the first nine months of 2013.
On the price front, inflation has been well contained with the average annual inflation based on the CPI for the Sultanate at 1.2 percent in January 2014.
The monthly statistics further indicated that the fiscal and external position of the Sultanate in 2013, the overall fiscal surplus (provisional) for February 2014 stood at RO 417 million, while the balance of payments showed a current account surplus of RO 1.9 billion during the first-three quarters of 2013.
The combined balance sheet of commercial banks recorded positive growth in all major banking aggregates. Total assets of commercial banks increased by 10 percent to RO 23.2 billion in February 2014 compared to RO 21.1 billion a year ago.
Of the total assets, credit disbursement accounted for 66 percent and increased by 8.5 percent over the year to RO 15.4 billion as at the end of February 2014. While credit to the Government declined by 40 percent, credit to the private sector and public enterprises increased by 8.6 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively.
Commercial banks' overall investments in securities increased by 20.9 percent to RO 2.69 billion as at the end of February 2014 from RO 2.23 billion a year ago. Of total investments, CBO CDs stood at RO 1.34 billion while investment in Government development bonds (GDBs) stood at RO 567.8 million as at the end of February 2014.
Likewise, on the liabilities side of the balance sheet, total deposits held with commercial banks also witnessed a significant rise of 13.8 percent to RO 16.47 billion in February 2014 from RO 14.47 billion in February 2013. Government deposits with commercial banks increased by 14.3 percent to RO 4.7 billion, while deposits of public enterprises increased by 15.3 percent to RO 1.1 billion during the same period.
Private sector deposits, which constituted 63 percent of total deposits with commercial banks, increased by 14.4 percent to RO 10.39 billion in February 2014 from RO 9.09 billion a year ago.
CBO's policy interest rate for absorption of surplus liquidity in the form of CB0 CDs of 28 days maturity marginally increased to 0.128 percent in February 2014 from 0.122 percent in February 2013. CBO's policy rate for injection of liquidity, i.e. repo rate remained unchanged at 1 percent since March 2012.
The overnight RO domestic inter-bank lending rate declined from 0.141 percent in February 2013 to 0.136 percent in February 2014. In respect of domestic interest rate structure of commercial banks, both deposit and lending rates softened during this period. The weighted average interest rate on RO deposits declined from 1.320 percent in February 2013 to 1.116 percent in February 2014, while the weighted average RO lending rate decreased from 5.627 percent to 5.353 percent during the same period.
CBO Issues Guidelines on Credit Exposure to Non-Residents and Placement of Bank Funds Abroad
In its Circular BM 1120, the Central Bank of Oman has issued fresh guidelines on credit exposure to non-residents and placement of bank funds abroad. Accordingly it has asked all the licensed banks operating in the country to comply with the guidelines with immediate effect.
In the Circular H.E. The Executive President of CBO said: "It is advised that the Circular together with the Guidelines comes into force with immediate effect."
H.E. informed that the banks, which are in excess of the prudential limits prescribed under the Guidelines, were being granted a grace period of six months from the date of this Circular to bring down their exposures within the prudential limits or maturity of their exposures, whichever is earlier.
The objective of prudential regulations is to cap the risks at a particular level and manage them in a manner, which promotes the safety and soundness of the individual financial institutions and strengthens the stability of the financial system, while facilitating the financial transactions for the ultimate benefit of the economy and the country.
Accordingly, the updated guidelines in the Circular covers Credit Exposure in Rial Omani to Non-Residents, Credit Exposure to Non-Residents in Foreign Currencies for Operations Abroad, Placement of Bank Funds Abroad and Other Prudential Requirements. For full details on guidelines kindly click here.
CBO Board Takes Appropriate Decisions Relating to Banking Sector
The Central Bank of Oman's Board of Governors which held its first meeting of the year on Monday, 24th March 2014, took appropriate decisions on several issues related to the banking sector in the country.
The meeting was chaired by H.E. Dr. Ali bin Mohammed bin Moosa, Deputy Chairman of the Board.
The Board which discussed several critical issues as part of its agenda approved the standards and criteria for significant change in ownership of shareholdings in licensed banks operating in Oman.
Accordingly, the Board also felt the necessity to establish a High Sharia' Supervisory Authority in the Central Bank soon.
The meeting also took stock of the action taken by CBO and the other commercial banks with regard to financing of SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) in Oman. It also reviewed the issues concerned with the compliance of the USA Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA).
Additionally, the Final Audited Accounts of the Central Bank of Oman, the Bank Deposits Insurance Fund and the Pension Scheme of CBO as at December, 31st 2013 were all endorsed by the Board.
It also reviewed the Management letter report of the external auditors and the annual report of the CBO Internal Audit Committee.
Likewise, the Board also reviewed the Activity Report of CBO's departments, its economic and financial report up to December 31st 2013, in addition to holding a review on different financial and administrative matters of CBO and the banking sector in general.
His Excellency The Executive President Addresses Delegates at Oman Economic Forum
H.E. Hamood Sangour Al Zadjali, The Executive President of CBO on Tuesday March 18th 2014 addressed a massive gathering of economists, bankers and top businessmen from the country here at the Al Bustan Palace Hotel as part of the two-day Oman Economic Forum 2014.
The fourth edition of the Oman Economic Forum is being held under the patronage of H.E. Darwish bin Ismail Al Balushi, Minister Responsible for Financial Affairs.
Speaking on the occasion H.E., who spoke on a varied set of banking and finance issues, provided an overview on prospects of the banking industry in the Sultanate.
H.E. said that in its capacity as the country's monetary agency, as well as the regulator and supervisor of its financial institutions, the Central Bank of Oman has been in the forefront in promoting the financial sector. "The CBO has put in place appropriate prudential and regulatory framework, instilling confidence in the banking sector and promoting economic growth and development in the economy," H.E. said adding that as part of the ongoing efforts to strengthen the banking system and bringing about greater financial inclusion, CBO has initiated various measures in the recent period in line with international norms and best practices. "These measures have helped to improve the efficiency of the Sultanate's financial system in general and the banking sector in particular," H.E. added. Commenting on some of the steps the CBO has initiated especially in relation to the Basel III framework, H.E. said that CBO has adopted a consultative approach and has issued the roadmap for implementation of Basel III framework in August 2012.
He added that the Banks were advised that Basel III framework will be applicable both at the level of consolidated bank as well as at the level of stand-alone bank. Multinational banks were also advised to follow the more stringent of the home or host regulations, while complying with CBO guidelines.
"We had asked for feedback from banks on this roadmap. Based on the feedback received from the banks, the final guidelines for implementation of Basel III framework were issued recently in November 2013," H.E informed the gathering.
H.E. also provided an update on the state of Islamic banking in the country, and the role of CBO in promoting SMEs in the Sultanate. Additionally, H.E. also provided a brief outline on the performance of the banking sector in the country, and the prospects of the Omani economy, which he said, remained positive given the favorable oil prices, expansionary fiscal policy, the pace of economic diversification, and the role of the private sector in the development process.
CBO Holds Credit Reporting Workshop on the BCSB System
The Bank Credit and Statistical Bureau Domain of the Central Bank of Oman had recently organized a one day workshop for representatives from 26 banks and finance and leasing companies in Oman to raise awareness of its operations, policies, credit reporting mechanism, credit information retrieval and other procedures, in addition to its other products and services. The workshop which was in line with CBO's vision to prepare and develop the banking staff on efficient use of credit information in their daily banking activities covered several business, technical and system related aspects of the BCSB system.
As data submission and participation in the credit bureau is mandatory as per the CBO Banking Regulation (BM/53/9/2011), BCSB Domain is working closely with member institutions to ensure there is efficient information sharing among the banking community in the Sultanate.
Currently, there are 26 member institutions encompassing seven local commercial banks, nine foreign commercial banks, two Islamic banks, two specialized banks and six finance and leasing companies. In all about 289 officers from the compliance/credit/risk/IT departments and branch managers of the banks and FLCs attended the workshop.
Speaking to the Portal News Team Ms. Zubaida Fakeer Mohammed Haji, Manager BCSB Domain said: "In line with our strategic plan, we are closely working with all the member institutions to ensure we establish a credit bureau of international standards. We are committed to increasing transparency in the lending process by providing accurate and comprehensive Credit Information Reports (CIRs) on consumers and corporate entities. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the banking system and the economy, that the mutual benefits of having a sound credit information system are fully achieved."
The workshop discussed several important topics related to Credit Reporting as the speakers presented a historical overview of credit information system, the most important principles of BCSB system, legal and regulatory requirements, products and services that can be availed by the member institutions. Furthermore, a presentation on the latest developments in Islamic banking products and the government's initiative to promote micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) in the Sultanate was also held.
During the course of the workshop, the participants were educated on the need for establishing a sound, credible and a useful credit bureau database and how to go about it. The workshop also demonstrated the kind of quality of data that is required to maximize efficiency and benefit the system and the credit environment as a whole. Additionally, the visitors were also trained on how to efficiently deal with the borrowers while improving access to credit to all sectors of the economy and minimizing customer complaints.
His Excellency the Executive President Receives the Governor of the Central Bank of Iran
His Excellency Hamood bin Sangour Al-Zadjali, The Executive President of the Central Bank of Oman, this morning received His Excellency Dr. Valiollah Seif, Governor of the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the accompanying delegation that is part of the current official visit by the Iranian President Dr. Hassan Rouhani to the Sultanate of Oman.
Both sides discussed a host of banking issues and other topics of mutual interest to the two countries, in addition to finding ways of supporting the existing mutual banking relations as well as facilitating the banking transactions in the upcoming period.
In addition, both sides looked into the status of the two Iranian banks operating in Muscat – Bank Melli Iran and Bank Saderat Iran.
In this regard, His Excellency Hamood Sangour noted that all local banks have been directed to collaborate with Iranian banks in relation to the ATM network and other banking transactions.
The Iranian delegation expressed keen interest in learning more about the payment systems in Oman, and indicated his desire to organize a visit by an Iranian Banking Delegation to CBO so that it can get familiarized with Oman's banking experience.
At the end of the meeting, H.E. Dr. Valiollah Seif invited H.E. Hamood bin Sangour to visit Tehran and meet CBI officials there.
He said that this will encourage further collaboration between the two banking sectors as well as enhance joint investments and bilateral business partnerships between the two countries.
CBO Asks Banks to Ensure Compliance With Corporate Governance Norms
Central Bank of Oman has called upon all the banks operating in the Sultanate to ensure that there was no conflict of interests in the positions held by senior management staff and board members, that they ensure compliance with the corporate banking norms set by the regulator.
Inviting reference to Circular BM 932 dated February 2002, the current circular BM 1119 said: "It is observed that some of the proposals, received of late, for approval of senior management and memberships in Boards imply conflicts of interests intended to be avoided by demarcation. For instance, Board members are proposed to be appointed as senior management in banks and senior management staff are proposed to be nominated as advisors, consultants and in other positions," the circular said.
Reminding the clauses of the BM 932, the Circular said that among others, the BM 932 stressed upon the principles of demarcation on the scope and roles/responsibilities of Board of Directors and Management in banks and licensed financial institutions. While, among others, the policy formulation shall rest with the Board and the Board needs to have supervision, management needs to assume responsibility for implementation with reports to the Board.
"Although banks have provided for in respective Articles of Association prohibition of Chief Executive Officers becoming independent Directors within two years, the Central Bank of Oman, as banking regulator, shall be concerned with other scopes of conflicts too," Central Bank of Oman noted in the Circular.
It said that any position, existing as of now (even with approval), should be diligent and transparent in addressing risks of conflicts and banks' Boards of Directors shall exercise control suitably. "Banks are advised against any future positions; involving scope for conflicts (senior management and membership in Boards) shall seek clarifications if required from CBO," the BM 1119 Circular said.
H.E. Welcomes Visiting British Minister of State to CBO
H.E The Executive President Mr. Hamood Sangour Al Zadjali extended warm welcome to Her Excellency Ms. Baroness Warsi, UK Minister of State for Faith & Communities and Senior Minister of State for UK Government, during her recent courtesy visit to CBO.
In the meeting H.E The Executive President and the visiting Minister reviewed the long standing relations between the Omani and the British banking sector.
H.E. The Executive President lauded the recent initiative of the honorable PM of Britain who designated the UK capital London as the venue for Islamic Baking Summit.
H.E provided a small briefing on the one-year-old Islamic banking experience of Sultanate and informed that the Sultanate at the moment has two exclusive Islamic banks in the country, in addition to a number of Islamic windows at the conventional banks.
H.E explained that the Central bank of Oman has incorporated special provisions in the form of a special chapter to the existing Banking law to make way for Islamic Banking in the country.
H.E explained that each Islamic bank in the country has established an exclusive Sharia Board to review all the Islamic banking products being offered to the public for sharia-compliance. In addition to the Sharia Boards, an additional committee with the banks shall closely monitor and review issues concerning all aspects of Islamic banking.
Providing further details, H.E indicated that the Central Bank of Oman was planning to establish a Sharia Committee which will tackle all issues of concern to the Islamic banking and financial institutions in the Sultanate. The Committee also will monitor the banks and the financial institutions to ensure that are functioning as per Sharia requirements.
H.E further informed that the Sultanate was also in the process of issuing Islamic Sukuk in the near future.
The two sides emphasized the importance of cooperation in these fields and agreed to provide training opportunities for Omanis working in the Islamic banking sector. They also felt that there should be mutual exchange of information and knowledge between the two sides and as such there was a need to increase the frequency of mutual visits of British and Omani banking officials.
The two sides also discussed the cooperation in the field of issuing bank notes and coins, as well as in all fields of concern to the Omani and British banking sectors.
On her part, Her Excellency the British Minister, who observed that Britain has attained a distinguishing position in Islamic banking, informed that UK has six Islamic banks in the country, in addition to six windows at the conventional banks.
H.E. Hamood Sangour Al Zadjali Receives World Bank Delegation
A World Bank delegation led by H.E Dr. Mirza Hasan, the Executive Director of World Bank which is on a GCC tour visited CBO here on Tuesday February 18th 2014 and met H.E. The Executive President at his office on the fifth floor.
H.E The Executive President held prolonged discussions on issues of mutual importance with the visiting WB dignitaries, and also apprised them about the measures and initiatives the Sultanate was taking to diversify its sources of income and reduce its dependence on the oil sector.
H.E. said that the Sultanate was taking steps to encourage the development of the non-oil sectors in the country which he said can provide potential grounds for creating increased job opportunities for the citizens of the country.
H.E. who commended the existing collaboration between the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Central Bank of Oman, outlined the significance of such a collaboration saying that the host of studies conducted by World Bank and its allied agencies have helped the Government to utilize the experience and expertise while devising the developmental programs for the Sultanate.
Providing an insight on various development programs initiated by the Sultanate, H.E. pointed out that the Central bank of Oman was very keen to ensure the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sector by providing them with necessary financial funding.
He informed that the Central bank has directed all banks in the Sultanate to extend loans and credit facilities to the small and medium enterprises earmarking at least 5% of their total credit portfolio. This, he said, would provide these enterprises with a limit of OR 1 billion during the coming period.
H.E. also indicated that the Government was also funding SMEs through Al Rafad Fund and Oman Development Bank, as well as through other financial institutions in the country.
H.E. underlined the fact that all these projects were aimed at creating increased employment opportunities in the country so that young Omanis can take up entrepreneurship and establish greater number of SMEs.
H.E informed the visiting delegation that the Central bank was planning to form a higher Financial Stability Committee in the country which will have a number of officials from the competent authorities in the country as its members. The committee would undertake relevant studies and bring in the best to ensure greater financial stability in the country. These efforts, H.E. informed will encourage foreign investors to invest in the bigger development projects which are currently being implemented in the Sultanate.
H.E. Dr. Mirza Hasan also presented a small briefing to H.E. The Executive President in which he informed how the World Bank was taking initiatives to support the developmental programs in the Sultanate and how it was evaluating and studying the investment programs and other projects in the country.
Meantime, the WB delegation commended the policies adopted by the Sultanate which created diverse sources of national income and also a host of employment opportunities in the country.