The 48th ordinary annual meeting of the General Assembly was held at Bank of Palestine Building, Gaza,via video conference with the General Management Head Office in Ramallah on Friday 24 April 2009. The General Assembly approved the board’s recommendation to distribute the net profits amounting to USD 18,595,863 for the day 23/04/2009 in the form of shares to shareholders proportional of their ownership of the paid capital which represent 22.80% of the paid up capital.
The meeting was attended by representatives from PMA, PSE, Palestine Capital Authority, Comptroller , and External Auditor.
Mr. Hashim Shawa, Chairman and General Manger, welcomed the audience and stated that in 2008, the Global Economic Crisis not experienced since the Great Depression of the 1930’s hit the worldwide banking sector causing an international destabilization of the economy. Unsecured lending, inadequate risk management policies and applications have caused this crisis. This induced most central banks to reduce interest rates providing liquidity in the markets. Bank of Palestine has not been materially affected, and its business has continued steadily with an increase in both profits and assets exceeding one billion USD, the biggest Palestinian Company in Total Assets.
Our wise investment and risk management policies are the keys to our success and our ability to face this turmoil. In addition, Bank of Palestine has been a leader amongst financial institutions in the Middle East in applying high risk management measurements, especially Basel II. Due to the bank’s wise policy and determination to provide banking services to the Palestinian people wherever they are and whenever they want, Bank of Palestine has successfully surmounted severe obstacles and continues to achieve growth and progress in all banking fields and activities. As for the balance sheet and income statement, the net profits after tax were USD 23,610,956 with an increase of 14.73% compared to the year 2007. The total assets increased remarkably to reach USD 1,045,622,629 with an increase of 23.36% compared to the year 2007, and shareholders’ equity increased to USD 123,169,873 with an increase of 36.52% as against USD 90,218,428 the previous year.
Regarding the geographical distribution of its branches, Bank of Palestine has gone ahead with executing its plan of expansion by opening two new sub-branches in Hebron, one sub-branch in Yatta Town and another in Saeer Town, thus bringing the number of the Bank's branches and sub-branches to 32, and therefore, keeping its first position as the most widely spread bank in Palestine. A new branch in Abu Dis and sub-branch in Turmysiaa were opened recently. In addition, a new seven-storey building has recently been built and prepared on land owned by the bank in a vital area in Nablus city center . Moreover, the Bank has started the establishment of new sub-branch in Birzeit University Campus in Ramallah and another one in Hawara- Nablus. In addition, BOP acquired the license for opening new sub-branches in both Meithalun and Yabad towns in Jenin and another sub-branch in Tarqumia- Hebron. Thesenew sub-branches will be ready to open and operate in 2009.
Regarding foreign relations and international cooperation, Bank of Palestine signed several vital agreements e.g. the Strategic Partnership Agreement with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member in the World Bank Group. In addition, the bank signed the National Housing Program for middle and low income residents with the Palestinian Investment Fund (PIF), Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPEC), and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). Furthermore, the Bank, together with the Palestinian Education Fund of the Palestinian Telecommunication Group and the IFC, have launched a pioneering program for granting loans to university students.
Acting upon our social responsibility towards our people, we have launched a national campaign titled “For the Children of Gaza”, through which the Bank donates one US Dollar for each purchase operation effected through its cash points.
Mr. Shawa announced that the bank will launch a new installment card that will assist customers to buy from points of sale without the need for documents. In addition, The bank announced the launching of the biggest saving campaign “ Life Time Salary” through a weekly withdrawal with a monthly salary of USD 500.
Bank of Palestine has continued its ongoing plans to improve employees’ skills and the quality upgrading of banking services has continued to be applied. Moreover, General Management Head Office in Ramallah has been reinforced by hiring experts and specialists. The IT Division in the General Management Head Office has been well equipped in order to smoothly operate without any difficulties, thus ensuring the continuity of providing banking services to our customers in all circumstances. With reference to Al-Wasata Securities Co, the investment arm of Bank of Palestine, the company preserved its first place position in attracting new investors to the Palestine Stock Exchange. In addition, the company also has an advanced position in volume of trading which amounted approximately to 300 million US Dollar. A new branch for the company was opened in the city of Ramallah to provide its distinguished services to all investors wherever they are. In conclusion, the bank would not have achieved these inspiring results without the continuous support and guidance of the Board of Directors to the Executive Management. The trust of our investors, of which we are proud, has led to all these outstanding results. Finally, the dedication and team spirit of the working staff towards this outstanding economic institution and their relentless pursuit to elevate Bank of Palestine, their national institution, is worthy of our veneration