Source: Central Bank is attacked by the "electronic armies" of banks affected by his policy

An official source at the Central Bank said that the campaign against the bank is behind the electronic armies of banks affected by the monetary and monetary policy followed by the Central Bank.

The source added that "the central bank has followed the policy of high-level to maintain the exchange rate of the Iraqi dinar and succeeded in that and there is a misguided campaign aimed at this policy by some of those affected by them."…7%D9%84%D8%AC/

Iraq’s public budget lacks support for local industries

governor of the Central Bank Ali Alalak, on Monday, that the public balances of Iraq are free of support for Iraqi industries.

Al-Alak said during his attendance at the parliament session today, that "the public attributes of Iraq are free of support for Iraqi industries."

He added that "the central bank weighed between the financial options," noting that "despite pressure and impossible targets, but the central bank maintained the exchange rate."

And on the "damage" 12 billion dinars in Rafidain Bank , said Alalak that it happened "before receiving (the post of governor of the Central Bank)," noting that the funds "draws because of damage suffered by Rafidain Bank."

"The Central Bank received the damaged papers and compensated and imposed a fine on the bank, and the management of the bank said it (an accident of 12 billion dinars) in the district and asked for a reduction of the fine, and was reduced because it is a government bank.

It is noteworthy that the House of Representatives held, earlier in the day, Monday, its 13 chaired by Mohammed Halbusi , and includes the meeting hosting the Governor of the Central Bank on the differences to discuss the status of his name and the signature of the currency, and the sale of currency and the reduction of reserves, and 12 billion Iraqis, Central Bank of Iraq.…D9%85%D9%86/ar

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By Veronica Cotdemiey, CEO of Citizenship Invest.

Turkish Nationality: The Most Desired Citizenship Program among GCC Expats

Citizenship by Investment programs have been witnessing some major changes and one of them is the introduction of the new Turkish citizenship program which was published on the Official Gazette and entered into force in September 2018. The new law requires a minimum Real Estate investment of USD 250,000 and the citizenship could be obtained in approximately 6 months.

With over 4 million Arabs residing in Turkey, the country is certainly one of the most desirable destinations for Middle Eastern people. Historically Arabs feel at home in Turkey, love Istanbul and the demand for the newly launched citizenship program shows so. Turkey has the 17th largest economy in the world and its on its way to hit the 1 billion USD mark in GDP in 2020.

In 2018 Turkey has seen an increase in real estate sales by over 20%. This is largely due to the drop of the property prices after the imposed US sanctions that weakened the Turkish Lira. Buying a property in Turkey today is almost 50% cheaper than a year ago only due to the exchange rate.  With the amendment of the citizenship legislation, sales in Turkey are set to fly.

There are many advantageous aspects of becoming a Turkish citizen. Firstly, investors can obtain the citizenship without ever residing in Turkey and within a period of approximately 6 months from submission of the citizenship application.

There is a high number of expats from countries like Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Egypt to name a few, who currently reside in the GCC, facing difficulties to obtain visas due to their current passports and looking for options. Turkey poses a good investment choice for them as it allows the option of owning property as well as a strong passport simultaneously and the possibility of moving to Turkey if they wish.

Turkey offers applicants the eligibility to become citizens through multiple ways such as a fix deposit of USD 500,000 for 3 years in a bank operating in Turkey; a fixed capital investment; or even generate employment in Turkey. However, the most interesting option is through investing in Turkey’s suppressed real estate market.

Investors are scrambling to find the property of their choice to qualify for the citizenship knowing that they can sell it after 3 years and keep the citizenship for life. An additional advantage is that the property can be passed to children without paying any form of inheritance tax.

A foreigner acquiring Turkish citizenship by investment has the same rights as any Turkish born in the country, therefore for those wanting to make Turkey their home this is a great advantage having the same level of equality, included the ability to pass the citizenship to future generations. The Turkish passport allows  visa free travel to 111 countries, including Japan, South Korea, Singapore and other major countries in Asia, Africa and South America.

Investors do not need to reside in Turkey at any point in time, which means they do not need to disrupt their lives and can just keep it as an option for the future. Spouse and all dependents under 18 years of age are eligible for the Turkish citizenship as well.

If the investor decides to live in Turkey, the country offers amazing quality of services and is considered to be one of the most low-cost places to live in. Basic costs like Electric and gas, council tax, rent, renovations, maintenance, food and drink, everyday groceries, transport and even petrol costs are just a fraction of what it costs in the EU and other developed countries.

Turkey’s infrastructure makes transport in Turkey convenient and reliable with easy access to a number of airports all year round, your journey home is normally within half an hour in most popular locations.

The Central Bank of Iraq confirms the continuation of his reformist approach to achieve financial and monetary stability

The Board of Directors of the Central Bank today issued an important statement in which it noted the continuation of its efforts during the past years to achieve economic steadfastness in the circumstances of Iraq and faced economic and security shocks.

Stressing that the central bank will work with care and dedication in order to achieve stability in the financial system and the monetary system in the next phase and maintain the achievements achieved during the economic and financial crisis in support of the national economy as a state bank.

As the central banks in the countries Mainly aimed at achieving monetary and financial stability through its programs and strategy aimed at maintaining stability in the exchange of their local currencies against other foreign currencies and building sufficient foreign reserves in accordance with international standards issued by the International Monetary Fund.

The banks are also evaluated according to other criteria related to the challenges and economic shocks Control of stable rates of inflation and interest rates, the application of compliance regulations and rules, and the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing.

The Iraqi Central Bank’s march over the last four years proved that it is progressing steadily to achieve the above objectives.

This proves that Iraq has gone out of the monitoring and follow-up area to the regular follow-up area every two years, like other banks in the world according to FATF.

The central bank has managed to maintain the dinar exchange rate against the US dollar during this year despite the economic and security challenges.

From an economic and analytical perspective of the state of stability in the exchange rate and from a neutral and transparent point of view, we note that the high independence of the Central Bank and the availability of foreign reserves at an average and for determining the adequacy to cover the cash mass in circulation and to cover imports according to the standards of the International Monetary Fund

as the foreign reserve is fully insured and occupies Iraq ranks fourth in the Arab world and is currently about 60 billion dollars and grows day after day in addition to the strength and recovery of the Iraqi dinar and deal with wisdom and responsibility and independence by the Central Bank will prevent the impact of international conditions and On the other hand, there is a surplus in the budget because of the high oil prices, which will enable the government to pay the internal debt.

All this represents the real guarantees for the success of the economic reform platform of the next government and the decree in the axis Third.

Statement issued by the Board of Directors of the Central Bank of Iraq

In line with the development of the democratic process in Iraq and the resulting rotation of the authorities in a positive and stable atmosphere, the Central Bank of Iraq looks forward to continue to play its pivotal role in building the state to improve the financial and economic situation in Iraq.

This optimism is supported by a strong financial reserve exceeding US $ 60 billion as a result of the fiscal and monetary policies adopted by the Central Bank over the past years to stabilize the general financial situation, especially in 2014 and the years that followed, with financial conditions at their lowest levels.

These years, which brought data threatened the ability of the state to cover the operational expenses and salaries of employees.

However, despite the difficult circumstances of low oil prices and the high cost of Iraq’s war against the terrorist campaign to liberate its territory, the central bank continued to manage the country’s reserves sufficiently to meet international standards and to strengthen the country’s financial capabilities Not less than (16) trillion dinars in the form of remittances discounted, which led to support financial stability and contribute effectively to overcome the crisis.

As a continuation of the central role of the central bank as a pillar of the country’s economy, a positive improvement in oil prices coupled with sound fiscal and monetary policies will enable the Iraqi government to pay early remittances and increase the value of reserves to higher levels.

The central bank’s monetary policy will continue to play an active role in maintaining exchange rates and reducing the gap between official and market prices under highly complex internal and external circumstances.

This is in addition to playing a central role in controlling the inflation rate and reaching the low levels of less than (1%) to maintain the general level of prices and attract investment.

As the central bank ensures the safety of the financial system, it will continue to play this role and more effectively in the next phase as the bank of the State to promote the Iraqi economy and support for reconstruction and investment efforts, which was the implementation of the largest lending initiative for the housing sector has exceeded two trillion dinars and other lending programs .

The service institution of exchange companies will hold a preparatory forum to discuss the merger of banking companies

The service institution of the exchange companies called on all companies to mediate in the sale and exchange of foreign exchange certificates to attend the preparatory forum which will be held today at the Babylon Hotel, indicating that the forum will discuss and put forward views and proposals on the invitation of the Central Bank to merge brokerage companies.

The Foundation said in a statement that "in order to support the exchange rate of the Iraqi dinar and towards financial stability and reduce the chances of transfer of risk in providing the best services and financial instruments, the service establishment of exchange companies to attend the preparatory and preparatory forum on 20 – 10 – 2018 at the Babylon Hotel Hall Enlil At 2 pm to discuss and put forward views and proposals on the call of the Central Bank in his book No. 9/5/361 dated 15/10-2018 calling for the merger of companies mediating the sale and purchase of foreign currencies.

The Foundation said in a statement tat "in order to support the exchange rate of the Iraqi dinar and towards financial stability and reduce the chances of transfer of risk in providing the best services and financial instruments, the service establishment of exchange companies to attend the preparatory and preparatory forum on 20 – 10 – 2018 at the Babylon Hotel Hall Enlil At 2 pm to discuss and put forward views and proposals on the call of the Central Bank in his book No. 9/5/361 dated 15/10-2018 calling for the merger of companies mediating the sale and purchase of foreign currencies.

By Ahmed Tabaqchali, CIO of Asia Frontier Capital (AFC) Iraq Fund.

Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The uncertainty that has prevailed over all economic activity during the last few months is finally coming to an end in a typical Iraqi fashion- extremes of either feast or famine. The parliamentary elections in May, having yielded no clear winner, led to a multi-month paralysis during which the election results were contested in court, subsequently leading to a partial recount of the votes.

Increasing the election anxiety were massive demonstrations in Basra and the southern governorates, where citizens demanded reform and investment into basic services, and the proverbial shaking of the political class by raising fears that they would spread throughout the country. Thoughts on the protest movement and its implications are further discussed in, (The Protest Movement, the Politicians and the Elections).

The end of the uncertainty came in early October with the appointment of a president, and a prime minister in quick succession. This was done at a speed almost unheard of in post-2003 Iraq. While the individuals are two of Iraq’s most accomplished politicians with a lot of promise, the important takeaway is that the process of selecting them broke the mould and ended the political gridlock that bedevilled the country since 2003.

This was a continuation of the effects of the same 2015 protest movement that had such a profound effect on how the elections were fought and their subsequent results. The most visible effect was the fragmentation of the prior ethno-sectarian monolithic blocs that dominated over the past 14 years, the root cause of Iraq’s political and social instability since 2003. It is the end of this gridlock that holds the promise for change in Iraq and with it begins the unlocking of the massive reconstruction drive that lies at the heart of the Iraq investment opportunity.

This is made significantly easier for the upcoming new government as the windfall from higher oil prices (based on the year-to-date average Iraqi oil price of USD 65/bbl) could imply that Iraq would have a two-year cumulative surplus of USD 24.5bn, or the equivalent of a 19% stimulus for non-oil GDP by the end of 2018. Conservative assumptions for Iraqi oil prices for 2019 of USD 59/bbl would imply a further surplus of USD 9.3bn by end of 2019, but if Iraqi oil prices were to remain at the current average price then the 2019 surplus could easily double to USD 18.6bn.

The implications of a three-year cumulative surplus of USD 33.8 – 43.1bn by end 2019 are enormous for Iraq’s ability to plan the funding of the reconstruction and to address the country’s structural imbalances. The assumptions above don’t assume that the current rally in oil prices is sustainable, but that Brent would stabilize at about USD 65-70/bbl from the current USD 84+/bbl (Iraqi oil tends to sell at a discount of USD 5/bbl).

However, this is at least a few months away as the new government is unlikely to be formed before the middle of November and as such would not be able to take any action before year end. Given that, the county is in the mildest of the 40-day Arbaeen pilgrimage, the timing of the new government’s spending programme would coincide with the return of activity following the Arbaeen pilgrimage -hence the earlier reference to the extremes of feast or famine for Iraq’s economy.

The market followed through with its longer-term bottoming process as the July interim bottom continued to be tested this month, in-line with the same trend seen in August and will likely continue for some time. The market, as measured by the Rabee Securities RSISUSD Index was down -4.8% for the month and -10.5% for the year. Average daily turnover declined significantly for the month to the lowest levels (by a wide margin) for a number of years as can be seen from the chart below.

Average daily turnover Index (green) vs RSISUSD Index (red)

(Source: Iraq Stock Exchange, Rabee Securities, Asia Frontier Capital)

The poor market action over the summer months should be seen in the perspective of the low turnover coupled with the continuation of the demonstrations that began in July, the prolonged uncertainty over the governments formation and finally the 40-day Arbaeen pilgrimage that brings the country to a standstill as millions of pilgrims take part in “the largest annual gathering of people anywhere on earth.

However, the low activity was not without fireworks as a sell-off by a foreign investor in Mansour Bank (BMNS) set off a frenzy of trading activity in a replay of the sell-off in the Bank of Baghdad (BBOB), as reported in July’s update “Of Frenzies & Market Bottoms”. At the worst point BMNS, was down -40% for the month and its market capitalization was equal to about 0.5x Book Value, 17% of assets and 22% of cash (based on trailing 12-month numbers). In an exact replay of the events with BBOB, once the position was liquidated locals and some other foreigners bought the stock which sent it up +27% to end the month down -24%, and -10% for the year.

However, the financial position of BMNS during the past few difficult years is almost the mirror opposite of BBOB. BBOB suffered from the same forces that crushed the sector’s earnings, as reviewed in (Of Banks and Budget Surpluses), in addition to its share of company specific issues and structural weaknesses that were exposed by the pains of 2014-2017, including the recent pressure on FX margins. BMNS on the other hand, weathered the storm mostly unscathed as seen below, and in particular it’s in a strong position to reap the rewards of a recovery given its strong deposit growth, low loan/deposit ratio, and low ratio of non-performing loans (NPL’s) to deposits.

As explained “Of Banks and Budget Surpluses”, the banks’ leverage to the economy crushed their earnings. In particular, the double whammy of the ISIS conflict and the collapse in oil prices squeezed government finances as expenses soared while revenues plummeted. The government resorted to dramatic cuts to expenditures by cancelling capital spending and investments which, due to the centrality of its role in the economy, led to year-year declines in non-oil GDP of -3.9%, -9.6% and -8.1% for 2014, 2015 and 2016, respectively. Ultimately, the government had a cumulative deficit of around USD 41bn during this period and accumulated significant arrears to the private sector in the process.

The same leverage should work in reverse as the potential budget surpluses of USD 33.8 – 43.1bn for 2017-2019 should have a simulative effects on economic activity which ultimately should translate to stronger future earnings for the banks. These were discussed in further details in: “Forget the Donations, Stupid.”

BMNS’ financial performance during the years of conflict can be seen through the three charts below that look at loans/non-performing loans (NPL’s), deposits and trade finance and their association with budget surpluses/deficits. BMNS’ loan and NPL data as supplied by the research team at Rabee Securities is gratefully acknowledged, while other data was taken from the Central Bank of Iraq. Data from 2010-2014 are based on Iraqi accounting standards, while data from 2015-2017 are based on IFRS, and all calculations uses the official USD/IQD exchange rate.

BMNS’ loan book growth peaked in 2015 at the same time that NPL’s peaked. Unlike many other banks in the sector, its loan book was almost flat during 2015-2017 and NPL’s as a percentage of loans declined by almost 50%. At the same time BMNS increased its provisions significantly at almost twice the NPL’s in 2017.

Mansour Bank: Loans & NPL’s 2011-2017

(Source: Central Bank of Iraq (CBI), Rabee Research, Asia Frontier Capital (AFC))

Unlike, almost all other banks in the sector, BMNS experienced deposit growth throughout the crisis with growth accelerating during the relative stability in 2017. A flat loan book and sharply increasing deposits resulted in a very low loan/deposit ratio allowing BMNS the opportunity to grow its loans book. Moreover, most of these loans are collateralized by property as most banks’ loans are in Iraq where the norm is for collateral value at 2x the loan.

Mansour Bank: Deposits and Loan/Deposit ratio 2011-2017

(Source: Central Bank of Iraq (CBI), Rabee Research, Asia Frontier Capital (AFC))

BMNS’ trade finance declined, however, at much lower rates than those experienced by the sector, while the damage to BMNS’ earnings was mitigated by the relatively small size of the business.

Mansour Bank: Trade Finance 2011-2017

(Source: Central Bank of Iraq (CBI), Asia Frontier Capital (AFC))

It’s logical to conclude that the sea change which has taken place in the government’s financial health would reverse the trends that affected the banking sector’s earnings as the significant stimulus to non-oil GDP should lead to sustainable economic activity which should provide the sector with room to recover. Given BMNS’ strong position relative to other banks, it should have an opportunity to grow much faster than the sector as a whole.

Please click here to download Ahmed Tabaqchali’s full report in pdf format.

Mr Tabaqchali (@AMTabaqchali) is the CIO of the AFC Iraq Fund, and is an experienced capital markets professional with over 25 years’ experience in US and MENA markets. He is a non-resident Fellow at the Institute of Regional and International Studies (IRIS) at the American University of Iraq-Sulaimani (AUIS), and an Adjunct Assistant Professor at AUIS. He is a board member of the Credit Bank of Iraq.

His comments, opinions and analyses are personal views and are intended to be for informational purposes and general interest only and should not be construed as individual investment advice or a recommendation or solicitation to buy, sell or hold any fund or security or to adopt any investment strategy. It does not constitute legal or tax or investment advice. The information provided in this material is compiled from sources that are believed to be reliable, but no guarantee is made of its correctness, is rendered as at publication date and may change without notice and it is not intended as a complete analysis of every material fact regarding Iraq, the region, market or investment.

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