Latvian banks overcome crisis

  • 1999-08-05
  • By Anastasia Styopina
RIGA - Latvia's banking system has overcome the effects of the Russian crisis and has shown positive development tendencies, claims Latvian Commercial Banking Association President Todors Tverijons.

"The positive tendency in the banking sector is absolutely clear, and we can put a full stop to the negative influence of the Russian crisis," Tverijons said.

In the first half of the year, banks' assets have totaled 1.82 billion lats ($3.08 billion), which is a 1.4 percent increase over the 1998 figure.

The same tendency is seen in deposits that have amounted to 1.1 billion lats and surpassed last year's result by 41.5 million lats.

"Today's level is higher than that of 1997 and 1998," said Tverijons.

"In terms of deposits, the negative influence has been overcome and the deposit base has been totally restored."

The banking association president noted that 38.3 percent of all deposits have been made by non-residents which proves that Latvian banks have regained the de-positor's trust.

"The banking system is regaining the trust of de-positors both in Latvia and outside of Latvia," Tverijons said.

Latvian banks are more active in attracting corporate non-residential deposits. Fifty-five percent of all corporate depositors are non-resident, while only 20 percent of all private deposits have come outside of Latvia.

Despite the effects of the Russian crisis, Latvian banks continue lending money to businesses. In the first six months, 26 banks have lended a total of 755.9 million lats which is a 3.2 percent increase over the 1998 figure.

The banking association president noted that banks mostly give credit to trade (26.9 percent), the processing industry (24.2 percent), transport and communications (12.3 percent) and agriculture (8.2 percent).

Tverijons noted that the capital consolidation tendency will continue.

"The number of banks will definitely decrease," he said. "There won't be 26 banks in Latvia, there will be much less."