National Committee on AML-CFT Holds Review Meeting
The National Committee for Anti Money Laundering and Combating Terrorism Financing which held its second meeting of the year on Sunday, December 27th 2015 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. 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 attended the meeting.
The meeting discussed a number of issues and took appropriate decisions in this respect. The Committee reviewed the efforts exerted during the Sultanate's chairmanship of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force MENAFATF for the year 2015 which had a profound impact in supporting and enhancing the Task Force's activities and cooperation among its members. In addition, the Committee discussed issues relating to an active joint collaboration with the National Committee for Combating Terrorism.
Following up its implementation of the decisions of the International Security Council, the National Committee reviewed the draft prepared on the mechanism for implementing the decisions of the Security Council with regard to the prevention and eradication of terrorism and combating of its finance, as well as preventing the proliferation and financing of weapons of mass destruction.
Furthermore, the Committee reviewed the necessary steps taken for the process of national risk assessment that aims at enhancing and supporting the National Committee through identifying the most imminent risks and threats together with the methods applied in committing crimes of money laundering and terrorism financing and bridging the gaps in the combating matrix.
The Committee was also briefed about the activities of the Financial Investigation Unit for the year 2015 and its plan for the year 2016 with regard to capacity-building and arrangement of awareness programs. The FIU also provided a brief review of some of its cases including those concerning suspicious transactions from financial institutions, non-financial businesses and non-profit organizations.
CBO Releases Five New Currency Coins
On the occasion of the 45th National Day 2015, the Central Bank of Oman is pleased to announce to the Public the issuance of New Circulation Coins of 100, 50, 25, 10, and 5 Baizes with effect from 27th December 2015. Alongside, the CBO also has announced the release of Commemorative proof sets of the circulation coins which will be offered for sale at R.O. 6/500.
These new circulation coins depict the Name & Title of His Majesty (Qaboos Bin Said – Sultan of Oman); National Emblem, the name of The Central Bank of Oman, Year of minting, and the Denomination in Arabic & English on the front side, while the backside portrays the 45th National Day Logo.
The new coins will circulate as legal tender along with the existing circulation coins.
For further details kindly refer to the full media release below:
CBO Board Holds its Fourth Meeting of the Year
CBO's Board of Governors held their fourth meeting of this year, on Monday, 21st December 2015 to discuss several pertinent issues concerning the banking sector in the country.
The meeting which was chaired by H.E. Dr. Ali bin Mohammed bin Moosa, Deputy Chairman of CBO's Board of Governors took stock of various issues on its agenda including the review of Economic and Financial report upto 30th September 2015, as well as the activity report of CBO's Departments during the period under review.
Additionally, the Board also endorsed CBO's budget for 2016, its Pension Fund annual budget for 2016 and the Bank Deposit Insurance Scheme (BDIS) annual budget for 2016. In addition, the Board also endorsed the recommendations included in the report of the mission of International Monetary Fund & World Bank on Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) and directed the concerned authorities to implement the said recommendations as far as possible.
Further in the meeting the actions taken by the Central Bank of Oman and Licensed banks operating in Oman with regard to the financing of small and medium enterprises also came up for the scrutiny of the board.
Likewise CBO's financial position as end of November 2015 and the performance of CBO's external investments during the period under review was also discussed in the meeting.
The Board also reviewed the financial and administrative matters of CBO and has taken necessary decisions.
CBO Issues Four Commemorative Coins to Celebrate 45th National Day
In celebration of the 45th National Day of the Sultanate, the Central Bank of Oman is pleased to announce the issue of four commemorative coins - two gold and two silver coins.
According to a press release issued here on Tuesday, December 8th 2015, all the commemorative coins are a Legal Tender for its face value, and have distinct features such as a Coat of Arms (Khanjar), the name of the country (Sultanate of Oman), the name of Central Bank of Oman, and the face value of the coin in Arabic and English on the obverse side.
On the reverse side, while two of the coins (gold & silver) depict coloured photo of His Majesty the Sultan, the other two (gold & silver) depict the coloured Logo of the 45th National Day.
The weight of the gold coin is about 37.80 grams, while the silver coin weighs about 28.28 grams. The silver and gold coins set is available for purchase at CBO for a price of RO 667 (for the logo set) and RO 668 (for His Majesty Portrait set).
While the indicative selling prices of these coins have been mentioned here, it may be noted that these prices are subject to change in accordance with the variations in the prices of the bullion in the International Market.
For further details kindly read the full press release by clicking the hyperlink in the headline.
All Banks to Be Closed for National Day Holiday
On account of the 45th National Day all banks operating in the Sultanate shall remain closed for two days - Wednesday (20th Safar 1437 H) 2nd December 2015 and Thursday (21st Safar 1437 H) 3rd December 2015.
A circular from H.E. the Executive President's office advised that the banks shall reopen for their routine business from Sunday (24th Safar 1437 H) 6th December 2015.
"We take this opportunity to express our best wishes to all members of the Banking Sector on this occasion," H.E. said in his greetings to the banking sector.
CBO Issues New RO 1 (One Rial) Currency Note to Commemorate Sultanate's 45th National Day
On the occasion of the 45th National Day 2015, the Central Bank of Oman is pleased to announce to the Public the issue of a New Commemorative Banknote of R.O. 1 denomination with effect from Wednesday, 18th November 2015.
This new banknote shall be in circulation as legal tender along with the existing banknotes. Describing the technical aspects and the appearance of the newly issued RO 1 bank note, the press release from the bank indicated that the new note bears a portrait of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said and the facsimile signature of His Majesty at the centre of the note.
In addition there's a water mark portrait of His Majesty on the right side of the note, the National Emblem (coat of arms) at the centre, "Central Bank of Oman" in Arabic on top of the note.
Similarly, the serial numbers are seen on right and left side of the note with the denomination in Arabic on right and on left side of the note. The wording "45th National Day" in Arabic can be sighted at the right bottom of the currency note.
The Al Alam Palace is featured at the right side of the note, while the recognition feature for the blind persons can be seen on both sides of the note.
The vertical windowed security thread in two metallic colours is embossed at the left side of the note.
For more details on the distinct features of the newly released one rial currency note - on the obverse and the reverse side - kindly read the full Press release below.
CBO Holds its Third Board Meeting of the Year
The Central Bank of Oman's Board of Governors which met here for the third time this year on Monday 5th October 2015, 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 upto 30th June 2015, as well as the activity report of CBO's Departments during the period under review.
In its meeting, the Board approved the application of Bank Muscat allowing it to open a commercial banking branch In Dubai – United Arab Emirates. The Board also endorsed the annual Budget of the College of Banking and Financial studies (CBFS) for 2015-2016.
In addition to reviewing the actions taken by the Central Bank of Oman and licensed banks operating in Oman with regard to the financing of Small and Medium enterprises, the Board also endorsed annual Budget of the College of Banking and Financial studies (CBFS) for 2015-2016.
Likewise the Board also took stock of the challenges and available opportunities for licensed Finance and leasing companies and proposed ways on how to develop it.
CBO's financial position as at the end of August 2015 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.
CBO's 47th GDB Issue Oversubscribed
The 47th issue of CBO's Government Development Bonds worth RO 300 million, has evoked an overwhelming response from the subscribers, and has been oversubscribed in line with the previous GDB issue results.
The current issue has recorded an oversubscription of RO 60.38 Million at RO 360.386 Million, as against the stipulated issue amount of RO 300 Million. The average yield equivalent percent to the accepted price was 2.54 percent at price of RO 102.150, while the highest yield equivalent was at 2.98 percent for RO 100.090 and the lowest was at 1.96 percent for RO 104.935.
CBO's Monetary Operations Department (MOD) released the online auction results on August 4th 2015 at its premises in the presence of senior MOD officials. The 5-year Bond will be issued on 9th August 2015, while it will mature on 9th August 2020 carrying a coupon rate of 3% p.a.
Central Bank of Oman launches the 47th Issue of Government Development Bonds by the Auction Method (07/07/2015)
The Central Bank of Oman hereby announces the new issue of Government development bonds. The size of the new issue is fixed at R.O 300 million with a maturity period of 5 years and will carry a coupon rate of 3% p.a.
The issue will be open for subscription from 26th July to 2nd August, 2015 while the auction will be ?held on Tuesday, 4th August 2015.
The issue settlement date will be on Sunday 9th August, 2015. Interest on the new bonds will be paid on 9th February and 9th August, every year until maturity ?date on 9th August 2020.
Investors may apply for these Bonds through the competitive bidding process only.
Investors may submit bids through commercial licensed banks operating in the Sultanate of Oman. Investors with applications of R.O One million and above can, if they so wish submit their bids ?directly to CBO after getting them endorsed from their banks. Prospectus and application forms can be obtained from any commercial licensed bank operating in the Sultanate.
The Bonds are direct and unconditional obligations of the Government of Sultanate of Oman.
The Bonds can be used as collateral to obtain loans from any local commercial licensed bank.The Bonds 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 Muscat Clearing & Depositary Company. Investors must provide the same bank account details registered with MCD in ?order to ensure the smooth processing of their bids and the receipt of the coupon payments and principal amount on their scheduled dates.
The 47th GDB issue is offered to all investors, residents and non-residents (irrespective of their nationality).
For further details, prospective investors may contact the Central Bank of Oman (Monetary Operations Department at (24777427/ 431/ 426/ 429) or any of the commercial licensed banks in the Sultanate of Oman.
Review of Banking and Monetary Developments - May 2015
Despite lower oil prices commencing from the second half of 2014, the macroeconomic situation continued to remain favourable. For the year 2014, the Sultanate's gross domestic product at current prices grew at 4.6 percent compared to 2.4 percent growth registered in the previous year. The petroleum sector contracted by 2.4 percent while the non-petroleum sector registered a growth of 10.1 percent during the year. The balance of payments situation remained comfortable with both current account and overall position in surplus. The current account surplus stood at around RO 1.6 billion in 2014 while the overall balance of payments position indicated a surplus of RO 429 million. Annual inflation rate measured by movement in the average CPI for the Sultanate stood at 0.25 percent during January-May 2015 over the corresponding period in 2014.
CBO Constitutes Islamic Banking Department
The Central Bank of Oman has announced the formation of a new department exclusively meant to deal with all matters concerning with Islamic banking operations in the country.
In a circular addressed to all licensed banks operating in the Sultanate, H.E. The Executive President announced the establishment of the Islamic Banking department at CBO.
In the circular, H.E. stated that correspondence on matters regarding Islamic Banking may be addressed to Manager, Islamic Banking Department. However, H.E. noted that interactions with existing Banking Examination and Surveillance Departments will continue under their purview.
CBO Releases its Annual Report 2014
The CBO Annual Report presents an assessment of Oman's macroeconomic developments during 2014 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 2014 and the first half of 2015.The full Report may be accessed under the title Publications.
CBO Board of Governors Hold Second Meeting of the Year
The Central Bank of Oman's Board of Governors met here at the CBO premises on Monday, 22nd June 2015 to take appropriate decisions on a host of issues pertaining to the banking sector in the country. The meeting the second of its kind this year, was chaired by H.E. Dr. Ali bin Mohammed bin Moosa, Deputy Chairman of CBO's Board of Governors.
In addition to the discussions on several of its agenda items, the CBO Board approved the merger proposal of Oman International Development and Investment Company (OMINVEST) and Oman National Investment Corporation Holding (ONICH).
The Board also discussed the regulations of personal loans and Housing Loans rendered by Commercial Banks operating in Oman. Reviewing the challenges and the available opportunities for licensed Finance and Leasing Companies, the Board proposed ways on how to develop this sector.
In the meeting, the Board also examined the advantages and disadvantages of suggestions made by licensed Finance and Leasing Companies and the recommendations on the same.
Likewise, the Board reviewed the actions taken by the Central Bank of Oman and Licensed banks operating in Oman with regard to the financing of small and medium enterprises, besides reviewing the Bank Deposit Insurance Scheme (BDIS) annual report for the year 2014.
The Board deliberated on the recommendations included in the Report of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank mission on Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) and directed CBO's executive management to follow up with the implementation of the said recommendation to the maximum possible extent.
CBO's financial position as at the end of April 2015 and the performance of CBO's external investments during the period under review also came up for Board scrutiny during its meeting.
The financial and administrative matters of CBO were reviewed and the Board has taken necessary decisions in this regard. Other issues which came up for the Board review included the review of the Economic and Financial report up to 31st March 2015, as well as the activity report of CBO's Departments during the period under review.
CBO Releases its Third Financial Stability Report
The Central Bank of Oman released its 'May 2015 Issue' of the Financial Stability Report which indicated that the Macro Financial Scenario of Oman at least in the short run, was comfortable in 2014.
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.
Dr. Qais Al Yehyei, Head of the Financial Stability Department at CBO indicated that despite continued fall in oil prices creating pressures on the fiscal space, growth outlook through public investment has not looked back.
"There is a temporary set-back, though," Dr. Qais added.
Although the IMF–World Economic Outlook projected decrease in GDP growth rate in Oman from 4.7 per cent in 2013 to 2.95 per cent in 2014, the FSR indicated that there are positive indicators of better economic growth prospects and accordingly Oman's output growth is projected to be 4.62 per cent in 2015.
However, the report expressed concerns that if the effects of interest rate rise on account of QE policy reversal in the US, and the current state of reduced oil prices continue to remain the same, it could impact Oman's growth scenario adversely, al beit with a time lag.
Some of the salient features of the FSR reveal that non-oil sector continues to carry a rising share reflecting purposeful diversification. Inflation is benign. Risks in the external sector are manageable. Foreign exchange reserves are adequate enough. Banks are in good health – with a capital base of about 16 per cent of total risk-weighted assets, return on assets and return on equity steady at 2.2 per cent and 14.7 per cent, respectively. Net interest margin of banks averaged 3.7 per cent with net non-performing loans staying put at 0.5 percent of the total loans portfolio. Stress Tests results speak a similar story.
"Under the extremely hypothetical stress scenarios adopted by CBO, Omani macro-financial system looks sound," Dr. Qais Al Yehyei, noted.
Dr. Qais further indicated that implementation of the post-crisis international regulatory reform agenda with special reference to quality and quantity capital is progressing well in sync with others on an international plane and that the Apex Joint Committee for Financial Stability is continuously coordinating with the viewpoints of the other external stakeholders to monitor potential vulnerabilities in the macro-financial system on a bi-annual basis.
Identification and designation of Domestic Systemically Important Banks (D-SIBs) has been undertaken and detailed guidelines with special focus on enhanced regulatory/supervisory regime for such 'too big to fail' bank/s has been issued. As a member of the Regional Consultative Group of the Financial Stability Board, Oman keeps itself alert on external developments to manage potential financial instability.
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 Celebrates 20 Years of BDIS
The Central Bank of Oman organized a celebration and hosted a lavish banquet to mark the successful completion of twenty years of BDIS (Bank Deposit Insurance Scheme) at the Muscat InterContinental Hotel in Al Qurm on May 4th 2015. The Scheme was launched in the year 1995.
In the event which was held under the patronage of H.E. Dr. Fuad Jaffar Al Sajwani, Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, CBO felicitated CEOs and GMs of the BDIS Member Banks who were instrumental in contributing to the success of BDIS. Several CBO officials were also felicitated on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion H.E. the Executive President expressed his happiness that Oman is one of the first countries in the region that has adopted an explicit-limited deposit insurance scheme in line with the global trend so as to enhance the depositors' confidence in the Omani banking sector and support the financial system's stability.
"The Fund commenced activity with a capital of RO 7.5 million in 1995. Today, it boasts a fund of RO 93 million," H.E. added expressing his delight.
H.E. thanked all the member banks, the BDIS Committee members and other CBO staff for their cooperation and contribution in making the BDIS a grand success in Oman.
"I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to all the member banks for their unstinted support in all our endeavors; the BDIS Committee Members whose awareness initiatives have borne fruit over the years; all the participants in the Awareness Project for their enthusiasm and commitment and the CBO staff who have contributed tirelessly in numerous ways to make BDIS Awareness Project and this special event a great success," H.E. said.
Mr. Malik Al Mahrouqi, Senior Manager BDD who is also the Deputy Chairman of the BDIS Committee delivered the welcome address and expressed his delight on the success of the BDIS campaign in Oman. He also thanked all the concerned officials for their cooperation.
"Ever since BDIS was launched on 26 March 1995, we have come a long way since then with the Fund achieving slow but sure growth from its humble beginnings. As most of you know, we launched a BDIS awareness campaign in May 2012, with the blessing of CBO higher management and the collaboration of the management of member banks. The campaign was successfully concluded last year," Mr. Malik added.
In all 37 officials including 17 CEOs and GMs of Member Banks, four past and present chairmen of the BDIS Committee and 16 other past and present members of the BDIS Committee were honored on the occasion and by felicitating them with certificates of appreciation and customary mementos.
Several other officials from the member banks and the CBO were also felicitated for their contribution in creating awareness about the BDI Scheme.
Later on a lavish dinner was served for all the participants of the event marking the culmination of a glittering yet modest celebration ceremony.
Speaking to Portal News Team Mr. Bader Al Aghbari, Manager BOD and member of the BDIS Committee revealed that in order to disseminate information on the Scheme, the BDIS team developed an effective communication strategy and adopted a three-pronged approach.
As part of the campaign, the first phase of the strategy was to create awareness among the banking community. With well-informed banks, the endeavor then was to inform depositors, and then the general public at large about the merits and benefits of the Scheme.
He said that the rapid exchange of information and cooperation from all the concerned improved the performance of the Scheme and it was largely successful in achieving its objectives, eventually enhancing financial stability in the country.
It may be noted that the Sultanate of Oman is one of the first countries in the Middle East which introduced the Bank Deposits Insurance Scheme (BDIS) quite early in 1995 vide Royal Decree No. 9/95.
The BDIS Committee took up several initiatives in the past few years to create awareness about the Bank Deposit Insurance Scheme encompassing different segments of the society.
In addition to several posters, leaflets, advertisement campaigns, and similar other promotional material, a booklet was also published by CBO to increase the awareness among the Banking Sector in relation to the applicable Law and Regulations governing the Bank Deposits Insurance Scheme (BDIS) operating in the Sultanate since 1995.
CBO Holds Annual Bankers Meeting
The Central Bank of Oman organized the Annual Banker's Meeting here at its premises on Monday, May 4th 2015, wherein CEOs and GMs of the commercial banks operating in the Sultanate attended to discuss pertinent banking matters and issues of common interest.
Delivering the inaugural address H.E. The Executive President of CBO expressed satisfaction that the year 2014 was yet another successful year for the banking sector with positive growth in deposits, advances and profits despite the unexpected spell of low oil prices.
H.E. said that it was heartening to note that the banks at the end of 2014 were able to meet the stringent Basel-III capital adequacy requirements by overcoming many challenges.
"I congratulate the banking community for the same. I also urge the bankers present here to keep up with their good efforts as the future may be far more challenging given the low oil prices," H.E. added.
Considering the challenging times ahead and Basel-III regime, H.E. advised that the banks should put in place a robust capital planning process so as to meet CBO's requirement on quality, consistency and transparency of bank capital.
"It is also expected that the prolonged period of low oil prices may contribute to asset-quality problems in banks after some time-lag. I, therefore, urge the bankers to closely monitor their loan portfolios, their operating expenses and take abundant care while distributing dividends or remitting profits abroad," H.E. advised.
Commenting on the recently issued framework for "Domestic Systemically Important Banks (D-SIBs)" by CBO, H.E. informed that these D-SIBs require creation of an enhanced regulatory/supervisory regime to reduce the probability of their failure.
"Banks which have been identified as D-SIBs shall conduct rigorous stress testing exercises; have in place a well-defined Early Warning and Crisis Management Mechanism, build a robust Recovery & Resolution Planning set up in addition to a comprehensive Risk Appetite Framework," H.E. said.
Referring to the concerns of some banks which suggested for the change in definition of SMEs as they were finding it difficult to achieve the target of 5% of total credit to SMEs, H.E informed that the Public Authority for SMEs conducted a workshop recently to gather feedback from all the stake-holders in this regard. However, irrespective of the changes in definition, H.E. reminded banks need to be proactive and innovative to support SMEs as they are the best avenues for growth of the economy as well as employment.
Meantime, H.E. expressed his pleasure that the growth of Islamic Banking in the country has been quite impressive during the last year. "At the end of second year of operations, the total assets of Islamic Banking went up by 67% from RO 808 million in 2013 to RO 1346 million in 2014. The deposits went up by 305% from RO 170 million in 2013 to RO 688 million in 2014. Similarly, Islamic financing went up by 144% from RO 425 million in 2013 to RO 1038 million in 2014," H.E. informed the gathering.
There are now two full-fledged Islamic banks and six Islamic windows with a total branch network of 46 Islamic banking entities (IBEs) operating in the Sultanate as of 2014, H.E added.
However, H.E. reminded that although the Islamic banking industry recorded an impressive growth, challenges remain in the form of capacity building of Omani staff.
"On account of rapid growth of Islamic banking, capacity building of Omani staff for offering Shari'a-compliant financial services is going to be a major challenge in future. I request the senior bankers to pay special attention to nurture their human resources in the area of Islamic banking," H.E. noted.
H.E. said that while CBO appreciates the steps taken by the banks during last year to comply with the requirements under FATCA, it is also reiterated that there is no proposal for any Inter-Government Agreement and that it is up to banks to take timely steps so as to avoid any legal or operational problems ahead.
Referring to complaints from the public about the alleged lack of communications from the banks on the terms and conditions of various loan products and the incidence of frauds in the banking sector, H.E. called upon the bankers to ensure strict adherence to CBO's circular on Consumer Protection, issued in February 2015, and also take steps to minimize the incidence of both on-line and off-line frauds and further strengthen their operational risk management framework to improve public confidence in the banking system.
H.E also requested all banks to review their current CSR policy and strive for betterment and enhanced actions in this regard. He noted that it will be useful to give coverage to banks' CSR activities in the Annual reports of banks and the social media.
HE The Minister of Justice to Launch the 21st General Meeting of MENAFATF on Tuesday
His Excellency Sheikh Abdul Malik bin Abdullah Al Khalili, Minister of Justice, will launch the deliberations of the 21st General Meeting of the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF) on Tuesday, April 28th 2015. The meeting will be held at Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort, which will continue until next Thursday April 30, 2015.
A number of dignitaries including Highnesses, Excellences and heads of the participating delegations will attend the meeting. Representatives of 18 member state in the group and 16 observer countries and organizations will also participate in the meeting.
The Sultanate will be represented by a delegation led by Mr. Khamis bin Salim al-Khalili, Assistant Attorney General, besides representatives from a number of other institutions represented in the National Committee for Anti-Money Laundering and Combating of Terrorist Financing (AML/CFT).
The meeting will discuss several issues relating to the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. Other topics which are likely to come for discussions include review of preparations for the second round of mutual evaluation and the new regulatory developments in the field of combating money laundering and terrorist financing.
The meeting will also discuss the voluntary tax compliance programme, in addition to a number of follow-up reports drafted and prepared by the member states.
CBO Holds IFSB Working Group Meetings
The Central Bank of Oman is hosting three Working Group meetings of Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB), in Muscat on April 21st, 22nd and 23rd 2015. The Working Groups which shall participate in the meetings include, the Task Force for the Technical Note on Stress Testing for institutions offering Islamic financial services, Guiding Principles for Retakaful (Islamic reinsurance) Working Group and Disclosure Requirements for Islamic Capital Markets Working Group.
In the meeting, the participants from the member countries of the IFSB, including representatives from CBO will discuss industry related issues. In a press release issued here, the CBO said that such Working Group Meetings provide a platform to representatives of the regulatory and supervisory authorities and market players to exchange views and share the experience of their jurisdictions for the preparation of relevant IFSB standards and guidelines. These meetings also provide a platform for the participants to share and review latest developments in respective areas of Islamic finance in individual countries and globally and gain large benefits from wider insights and experiences, the release said.
Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) is an international standard-setting body of regulatory and supervisory agencies that promotes and enhances the soundness and stability of the Islamic financial services industry by issuing global prudential standards and guiding principles for Islamic banking, Islamic capital markets and Takaful sectors. The IFSB also coordinates initiatives on industry related issues, as well as organizes roundtables, seminars and conferences and awareness programs for regulators and industry stakeholders in various countries.
As a practice, IFSB organizes different Working Group meetings in member countries on a rotation basis.
Central Bank of Oman is an observer member of IFSB since February 2012 and participates actively in all the events organized by the IFSB. During the preparation of Islamic Banking Regulatory Framework (IBRF), Central Bank of Oman greatly benefited from the standards issued by the IFSB.
Higher Committee on Financial Stability Holds its Third Meeting
The third meeting of the Higher Committee on Financial Stability was held here on Thursday, April 16th 2015 at the CBO premises. H.E The Executive President of Central Bank of Oman, Mr. Hamood Sangour Al-Zadjali chaired the meeting, which was attended by other members including H.E The Executive President of Capital Markets Authority (CMA), Director General of Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
In its meeting, the Higher Committee took stock of the position of fall in oil prices and its likely impact on banking sector in particular, and the overall economy in general. They also discussed at length an elaborate macro-financial surveillance mechanism for Oman including a suitable crisis management framework to take care of any crisis that might be fall upon the Omani system.
The Higher Committee on Financial Stability is the Apex Macro prudential Authority to address systemic risks in Oman through the joint and coordinated effort of the Central Bank (which is also the regulator of banking sector in Oman), the Government and the CMA, the regulator of Capital market and the insurance sector.
CBO Executive President Inaugurates Regional Seminar on "Regulating and Supervising Systemic Banks in GCC Countries"
H.E Hamood bin Sangour Al Zadjali, Executive President of the Central Bank of Oman inaugurated a regional seminar on "Regulating and Supervising Systemic Banks", on Monday here at the Intercontinental Hotel Muscat. The seminar is being organized by the Central Bank of Oman in collaboration with the General Secretariat of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Financial Stability Institute (FSI) of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). The BIS officials will hold the proceedings of the four day seminar. A number of bank examiners from all the central banks and monetary agencies of the GCC countries will participate in the seminar.
The seminar aims at enhancing the manpower skills of the GCC regulators, as well as boosting the supervisory and regulatory systems of the GCC countries. The seminar will also focus on supervision and control of the Domestic Systemically Important banks (DSIBs). The working papers to be submitted during the course of the event will deal with a number of issues of interest to the GCC central banks. These include Basel III Accord and the related new developments, and the DSIBs framework adopted by the Central Bank of Oman and the Central Bank of Bahrain to address issues relating to banks at systemic risks.
The seminar will also study the governance issues, important regulatory issues besides deliberating on developing the expertise of the central banks in supervising domestically systemically important banks (DSIBs) in GCC countries. Additionally, the seminar will have a number of discussion groups (Tours de Table) on regulation and supervision on the Gulf banks, as well as on the developments and lessons learnt from risk management and controls.
Likewise, the seminar will also examine balance sheets and hold discussions on the subject in view of the recent developments in Basel III and the latest standards on accountancy, financial instruments and supervisory regulations. It will also shed light on the stress testing.
CBO Board Holds its First Meeting of the Year
The Central Bank of Oman's Board of Governors held their first meeting of this year here at CBO premises on Monday, 23rd March 2015. The meeting which was chaired by H.E. Dr. Ali bin Mohammed bin Moosa, Deputy Chairman of CBO's Board of Governors took appropriate decisions on a host of issues pertaining to the banking sector in the country.
In the meeting, the Board which reviewed various issues on its agenda approved the approach set by the banks on the implementation of Financial Stability Board's principles for sound compensation to banks staff practices and their implementation standards.
In addition to reviewing the performance of commercial and Islamic banks operating in Oman during the year 2014, the Board also examined their compliance with regulatory requirements and their business performance.
The Board also reviewed the challenges and available opportunities for licensed Finance and Leasing Companies and proposed ways on how to develop this sector.
Likewise, the Board reviewed the actions taken by the Central Bank of Oman and Licensed banks operating in Oman with regard to the financing of small and medium enterprises, besides endorsing the audited accounts of Central Bank of Oman, Deposit Insurance Fund and Pension Scheme of Central Bank of Oman as at 31st December 2014.
The Board reviewed the Management letter report of the external auditors and annual report of the CBO Internal Audit Committee.
CBO's financial position as at the end of February 2015 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.
Other issues which came up for the Boards review included the review of the Economic and Financial report up to 31st December 2014, as well as the activity report of CBO's Departments during the period under review.
CBO Revises Penalties on FLCs for Non-Compliance with its Regulatory Framework
The Central Bank of Oman has announced the revision of the extant penalty framework applicable to all Finance and Leasing Companies, which are found to be non-compliant with directives, policies and circulars or other instructions of CBO, the provisions of the Banking Law, Rules and Regulations issued thereunder or any other applicable laws of the Sultanate.
In the new Circular FM – 32, H.E. The Executive President referred to the BM Circular 1134, dated March 12, 2015 issued to all licensed banks operating in the Sultanate, and advised that the contents thereof will apply to all Finance and Leasing Companies (FLCs) too, except paragraph 5 (v) of the Annexure to Circular BM 1134.
The Circular further advised that in the case of FLCs, paragraph 5 (v) of the Annexure to Circular BM 1134 should read as: "The penalty amount, if any, should be paid by the concerned FLC within seven days of the covering letter of CBO enclosing the Examination Report and the final Schedule of Penalties."
The FM Circular indicated that all FLCs should be guided accordingly. For further details on the Circular and the annexure please click here .
CBO Revises Penalties on Banks for Non-Compliance with its Regulatory Framework
The Central Bank of Oman has announced the revision of the extant penalty framework applicable to licensed banks, which are found to be non-compliant with directives, policies and circulars or other instructions of CBO, the provisions of the Banking Law, Rules and Regulations issued thereunder or any other applicable laws of the Sultanate.
In 2003, the Board of Governors (BOG) had resolved that a Matrix of Penalties for non-compliance be laid down and the same was disseminated to licensed banks vide Circular BM 962 dated November 15, 2003. With the revised penalty framework being issued by CBO to be effective from the examination cycle of 2015, the existing framework (as per BM 962) stands superseded, while the actions initiated there-under are not rescinded and continue to be effective, the circular said.
In the new BM Circular 1134, H.E. The Executive President of CBO expressed the concern that despite imposing penalties as per the provisions of the BM 962, some licensed banks continue to be non-compliant with the provisions of the Banking Law, Regulations, Directives, Circulars and other instructions issued by CBO from time to time, as detailed in various CBO On-site Examination Reports and other communications.
"It has also been observed that the existing penalty structure is not sufficient enough to achieve credible deterrence or discipline of errant banks or to create an appropriate compliance-driven culture within the banking industry," H.E. The Executive President elaborated in the Circular.
Accordingly, CBO has revised the extant penalty framework taking into account the concerns of CBO and practices in other jurisdictions and also aligning with the risk-based supervisory framework since adopted by CBO. The revised penalty framework, as approved by the Board of Governors of CBO, is attached in the Annexure to Circular BM 1134 for the information and guidance of banks.
The BM Circular 1134 further stated that banks should note that non-compliance with the CBO regulatory framework will be viewed very seriously in future and hence are strongly advised to put in place adequate systems, procedures and controls to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Banking Law, Regulations, Directives, Policies, Circulars and other instructions of CBO and other applicable laws of the Sultanate.
Additionally, the circular cautioned the banks that all other provisions of the Banking Law, Regulations and instructions relating to non-compliance, including scope for withdrawal of banking license, suspension of operations of the bank and/or its branches and denial of access to credit facilities of the Central Bank, in appropriate circumstances, shall be applied by the Central Bank.
The contents of this Circular, in conjunction with Title 4 of Islamic Banking Regulatory Framework, shall be applicable to licensed Islamic Banking Entities in the Sultanate, it is stated. For further details on the Circular and the annexure please click here .
High Sharia Supervisory Authority Holds its First Meeting
The High Sharia Supervisory Authority formed to provide expert opinion and advice to the CBO on Sharia matters related to Islamic banking business held its first ever meeting on Monday 16th March 2015 here at the CBO premises.
All the members of the Authority, including Shaikh Dr. Kahlan Bin Nabhan Al Kharoosi, Shaikh, Dr. Abdullatif bin Mahmood Al Mahmood, Dr. Said bouheraoua, Mr. Ahmed Suhaimi bin Yahya and Dr. Yaqoob bin Mohammed Al Waily participated in the first meeting which discussed issues concerning Islamic banking in the country.
Welcoming the members of the High Authority, His Excellency, Hamood Sangour Al Zadjali, the Executive President of CBO wished them success in performing their due role as members of the Authority.
Speaking on the occasion, HE stated that CBO is looking forward to derive benefit from their knowledge and experience in Fiqh, Islamic banking and finance so that issues concerning the common interests can be addressed efficiently.
It may be noted that formation of High Sharia Supervisory Authority is a major step in accomplishing CBO efforts following the roll out of Islamic banking in the Sultanate. The Royal Decree No. 69/2012 opened the doors for Islamic banking in the Sultanate by amending the Banking Law No. 114/2000 allowing banking activities by full-fledged Islamic banks or stand-alone Islamic Banking windows of conventional banks.
During the course of the meeting the members elected Shaikh Dr. Kahlan Bin Nabhan Al Kharoosi as Chairman of the Authority and Shaikh Dr. Abdullatif bin Mahmood Al Mahmood as its Deputy Chairman. The Authority also noted a proposal to appoint coordinator/secretary and specify his responsibilities.
As part of the meeting deliberations, a presentation was also held on legal and regulatory framework of Islamic banking entities, and their performance since the inception of the business in January 2013 up to December 2014.
It is worth mentioning that in December 2012, CBO issued a comprehensive Islamic Banking Regulatory Framework (IBRF), covering regulatory and supervisory aspects of Islamic banking, to ensure smooth functioning, soundness and stability of the Islamic banking industry in the Sultanate. IBRF provides detailed instructions and guidelines on the issues relating to licensing, supervision of Islamic banking entities, based on best regional and international experiences and practices.
Earlier the Board of Governors had approved the appointment of the above mentioned honorable scholars as members of the Authority. The Central Bank had issued Regulation No. BM/54/12/2013 announcing the formation of High Sharia Supervisory Authority and its structure. In the light of this Regulation the functions of the Authority include providing opinion and expert advice to the CBO on Sharia matters related to Islamic banking business.
Additionally, the Authority will also be required to give binding rulings in the matters, submitted to it through CBO, on Fiqh disputes between Sharia supervisory boards of different Islamic banking entities. The Authority shall also provide its expert advice and opinion on matters relating to Sharia compliance of the transactions between Central Bank and Islamic banking entities which include activities such as opening of accounts, providing finance, sale and purchase and issuance of Islamic financial instruments etc.
Cash Operations to be Shifted to CBO KOM Building
In view of the ongoing construction activity at CBO Head Office, all operations relating to issuing and receiving of cash will be temporarily suspended from CBO Head Office in Ruwi and will be shifted to CBO Building in Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) in Rusayl starting from 15/03/2015.
In a Circular BM 1133, addressed to all banks operating in the Sultanate, H.E. The Executive President said that the arrangement shall continue until further notice.
"You are kindly requested to acknowledge the above and arrange for the needful at your end," H.E. The Executive President advised in the circular.
For any queries or clarifications, the banks can contact the Currency Department on 24777606, 24777619 or 24777623.
CBO Asks Banks to Dispense ATM Fit Notes
The Central Bank of Oman has called upon all the banks operating in the Sultanate to dispense ATM fit quality notes from their respective ATMs.
In a BM 1132 circular issued recently, H.E. The Executive President noted that the banks were observed to be placing unfit quality notes in their ATMs resulting in difficulties in dispensing the cash.
"It has been observed recently in many cases that the dispensed cash from ATM is of unfit quality. Therefore, all banks are required to ensure that only ATM FIT quality banknotes are placed in their ATMs," H.E. The Executive President advised.
CBO Issues Commemorative Silver Coin on Nizwa
The Central Bank of Oman has issued a commemorative Silver Coin to celebrate and honor the selection of Nizwa as the "Capital of Islamic Culture for 2015". The Commemorative Coin depicts a coloured image of the Logo which symbolizes the dome of Sultan Qaboos Mosque in Nizwa, and the Nizwa Fort.
According to a press release issued rcently 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 Commemorative Silver Coin depicts a coloured image of the Logo of this occasion
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 Obtains ISO 9001:2008 Certification for its Currency Management Services
Central Bank of Oman has successfully obtained the ISO 9001:2008 Certification for its Currency Management Services. In a formal function held on Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at CBO premises, the Certificate was handed over to His Excellency, Hamood Bin Sangour al Zadjali, Executive President of CBO by the Country Manager, Bureau Veritas (BV)-the certification body accredited by United Kingdom Accreditation Services (UKAS). The certification was issued after auditing the Central Bank against the requirements of ISO 9001:2008 standard.
Speaking on the occasion His Excellency informed that the Certification by an independent external body implies that the currency department of the bank has established internationally recognized systems and processes that are capable of delivering quality services to its customers.
He further informed that over the years, CBO has consistently implemented several initiatives to enhance quality of services and ISO 9001:2008 Certification is one more significant step in the direction of delivering improved services to its stakeholders.
His Excellency noted that although CBO has many international guidelines and frameworks which govern its regulatory functions, as part of its continued commitment to service quality, the Bank has chosen to adopt ISO 9001:2008 as well.
His Excellency underlined that this trend of adopting quality standards is catching up now where every service provider, whether Government, regulator or private are looking for ways to enhance service to stakeholders.
Speaking further His Excellency elaborated that during the last one year ever since the commencement of the Project in October 2013, CBO has undertaken a number of steps to enhance employee involvement and service quality which included releasing of Quality Policy, conducting of training on quality awareness and skill development, holding Customer Satisfaction Surveys, establishment of Quality objectives, reviewing of procedures, conducting internal quality audit, development of Quality Manual, conduct of Management Reviews in addition to the introduction of new customer service initiatives.
His Excellency expressed hope that with the establishment of Quality Management System in Currency Department there will be reduction in waiting time at the counters, enhancement in counting efficiency and customer experience in the Bank.
Central Bank of Oman is currently implementing Currency Management System which along with Quality Management System is expected to enhance the experience of Commercial banks. It is among the first central banks in GCC countries to have obtained the ISO 9000:2008 certification for its currency management services.
During the briefing, while complimenting the contributions made by Quality Improvement Department and Currency Department, His Excellency expressed his delight in obtaining the ISO 9001:2008 Certification in 2015- which marks the completion of 40 Years of Central Bank of Oman.
Within the Bank, the ISO 9001 project was implemented by Quality Improvement Department with the assistance of Al Jadarah Business Consultants who provided the consultancy services.
Ms. Mayyasa Al Balushi, In-charge, Quality Improvement Department said that ISO 9001:2008 can bring three important benefits for the organization namely, customer focus, employee involvement and continuous improvement.
She added that ISO 9001:2008 can help in transforming the work environment and promote a culture of quality in the organization. While the certification is valid for 3 years, there will be surveillance audit every year by the external body to ensure maintenance of the Quality Management System.
CBO's 46th GDB Issue Receives Huge Response
The 46th issue of CBO's Government Development Bonds worth RO 200 million, has evoked an overwhelming response from the subscribers, and has been oversubscribed in line with the previous GDB issue results.
The current issue has recorded an oversubscription of RO 74.9 Million at RO 274.979 Million, as against the stipulated issue amount of RO 200 Million.
The average yield equivalent percent to the accepted price was 3.51 percent at price of RO 108.295, while the highest yield equivalent was at 4.05 percent for RO 103.670 and the lowest was at 2.80 percent for RO 114.750.
CBO's Monetary Operations Department (MOD) released the online auction results on February 18th 2015 at its premises in the presence of senior MOD officials.
The 10-year Bond will be issued on 23rd February 2015, while it will mature on 23rd February 2025 carrying a coupon rate of 4.50 % p.a.
The issue was open for subscription between February 8th and February 15th 2015, while the auction was held on Tuesday, February 17th, 2015.
CBO Announces 46th GDB Issue Worth RO 200 Million
The Central Bank of Oman has announced a new Government Development Bonds issue worth OMR 200 million with a maturity period of ten years. The current issue will carry a coupon rate of 4.5 per cent per annum.
The issue will be open for subscription between February 8th and February 15th 2015, while the auction will take place on Tuesday, February 17th, 2015. The issue settlement date will be February 23rd, 2015.
Interest on the new bonds will be paid biannually on August 23rd and February 23rd every year until the maturity date which falls on February 23rd, 2025.
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 which are direct and unconditional obligations of the Government of Oman 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.
Interest Payable on Capital Deposits Reduced to 1 %
The Central Bank of Oman has decided to reduce the rate of interest payable on Capital Deposits deposited by all licensed banks, Finance and Leasing Companies and Money Exchange Companies from 1.5 percent to 1 percent per annum.
The decision to reduce the interest rate comes in view of the prevailing interest rates in the Sultanate.
In a BM Circular (1130) issued here on Monday, February 2nd 2015, H.E. The Executive President noted: "Further to our Circular BM 1086 dated 2nd January 2012 and in pursuance of Article 61 (g) of the Banking Law, the Central Bank of Oman has reviewed the matter and decided after considering the prevailing interest rates within the Sultanate that the rate of interest payable on Capital Deposits shall stand reduced to 1% per annum from 1.5% per annum hitherto paid."
The revision takes effect from 1st January 2015 and accordingly, the CBO has advised all Licensed Banks, Finance and Leasing Companies and Money Exchange Companies to note the change in the interest rate on capital deposits and also that all other provisions/regulations/instructions in this regard shall continue to be in force.
CBO Releases D-SIB Framework for Oman
The Central Bank of Oman has issued the framework for "Domestic Systemically Important Banks (D-SIBs)", which is a set of new recommendations and requirements for banks identified as systemically important.
The framework which has been issued as part of the recommendations of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS), comes in the backdrop of the financial crisis of 2007-2009 which revealed that, the failure or impairment of banks having systemic implications ("Too-Big and/or Too Complex-To Fail") had profound damaging implication for the whole economy.
Accordingly, a concept called Domestic Systemically Important Banks (D-SIBs) was coined by the Basel Committee which evolved an empirical mechanism through which such banks which are at systemic risk could be identified in any jurisdiction.
Based on the recommendations of the BCBS, CBO which drafted the new framework requires creation of an enhanced regulatory/supervisory regime at such banks to reduce their probability of failure by adhering to certain exclusive requirements of the BCBS.
As per the new directives, banks which have been identified as D-SIB shall hold rigorous stress testing exercises, have in place a well-defined Early warning and Crisis Management Mechanism, build a robust Recovery & Resolution Planning set up in addition to a comprehensive Risk Appetite Framework.
The bank may prepare a Vision Statement on how best it can project itself in medium/long term perspectives and what the appropriate strategies will be from the angle of addressing systemic risk.
Additionally, the enhanced capital surcharge (CET1 only) for the bank - being an identified D-SIB in Oman - is stipulated at 1 per cent which will be enforced in phases.
Dr. Qais Al Yehyei, In Charge of the Financial Stability Department (FSD) at CBO indicated that these checks and controls shall ensure that in the extreme event of any problems occurring at such banks, the damage to the entire financial system of the country is kept at the minimum.
"With these measures at place, public perception and hence confidence on the robustness of their health would improve and eventually boost the financial stability of the system," Dr. Qais remarked.
CBO Issues a New Book on the History of Modern Currency in the Sultanate of Oman
The Central Bank of Oman has published a new book on the history of modern currency in the Sultanate of Oman. The new book provides an in depth and comprehensive analysis of the modern history of the Omani currency discussing in detail its historical perspective, vision and strategy.
The book provides an exhaustive summary of the origin and evolution of the Omani currency as well as useful and comprehensive information about the modern currency issued under the prosperous era of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said – may God bless and protect him.
The book starts with a detailed preamble providing information on the currencies issued since the beginning of the twentieth century, coinciding with the period that witnessed the circulation of the Maria Theresa Dollar and the Indian currencies, including the copper Baisa during the reign of Sultan Faisal bin Turki. It further describes the evolution of the early Omani currencies and banknotes and the developments witnessed during the Blessed Renaissance period.
The book portrays through its contents, CBO's process of issuing bank notes including circulated coins, commemorative coins, and medals during the period between 1970 to 2011.
Additionally, the new book also embodies in its eight chapters, the approach and strategy of the Central Bank of Oman in documenting the Omani currency, besides providing valuable scientific material and information for scholars, researchers, specialists and all those concerned with studying the Omani currency.
**The book is available for sale at the Central Bank of Oman head office at RO 15.
H.E. The Executive President Receives Lord Mayor of London
H.E. The Executive President received Lord Alderman Alan Yarrow, the Lord Mayor of London who visited CBO on Wednesday, January 21st 2015.
The Lord Mayor who led a high profile business delegation from the UK, which included senior investment bankers, asset managers, insurers and representatives from law firms, was extended a warm welcome by H.E. The Executive President and some of the senior CBO officials who were present on the occasion.
Lord Mayor who is on a business visit to Oman from January 21st 2015 to January 24th 2015 held extensive discussions with H.E. The Executive President.
In the meeting the two sides discussed common issues related to banks and financial institutions in the two countries. H.E. The Executive President provided a small briefing on the state of Omani economy and the banking sector in the Sultanate, besides also discussing the monetary policy and the regulatory set up in the country.
Other topics that came up for discussions during the meeting included the training programs on banking offered by British banks, especially the ones by the Bank of England, and how CBO personnel can derive benefit out of the same.
The Lord Mayor, who was appreciative of the strength of the Omani banking sector, stressed the importance of holding cooperative arrangements between the banking and other financial institutions of both the countries.
Later on, the visiting delegation was escorted to the Currency Museum wherein they were briefed about the historical origin and evolution of the Omani currency during the reign of HM Sultan Qaboos bin Said (May Allah protect him).
Lord Mayor of London, who is considered an ambassador for the UK's financial and professional services, will meet senior officials of the government, investment authorities and senior business leaders in Oman during his 4-day stay in the country.