On Thursday, 28/3/2019, Bank of Palestine’s General Assembly held its annual ordinary meeting at its main headquarters in the city of Ramallah, and through videoconference with the Roots Hotel in Gaza City. The meeting was held in the presence of Mr. Hashim Shawa, the Chairman of Bank of Palestine Group, Mr. Rusdhi Ghalayini, the General Director of Bank of Palestine, members from the Bank’s Board of Directors, company controllers from the Ministry of National Economy, representatives from the external audit company, the Palestine Exchange, the Palestine Monetary Authority, the Palestine Capital Market Authority, and several shareholders, businessmen and economists. The hearing with a majority of 71.86% of bank shareholders.

During the course of the meeting, the General Assembly approved the meeting agenda and the recommendation of the Board of Directors to distribute the amount of $27 million from the bank’s realized profits, which is equivalent to 13.5% of cash paid, on shareholder registered at the Palestine Exchange on Wednesday, 27/3/2019. The bank will commence the distribution of profits in the following manner: cash profits in the amount of $23 million, equivalent to 11.5% of paid capital; and free shares in the amount of $4 million, equivalent to 2% of paid capital, thus increasing the bank’s capital from $200 million to $204 million.

During his opening speech, Mr. Hashim Shawa, the Chairman of Bank of Palestine Group, presented the series of accomplishments achieved by the Bank and the Group during the previous year, and its ability to strengthen its presence in the Palestinian banking market as one of the largest banking institutions in Palestine that is committed to the principles of sustainability and the application of modern banking through a strategy that invests in digital entrepreneurship and technology in all its operations.  According to Shawa, “the year 2018 was an important stage in the bank’s history as it began to implement several strategic projects that focused on increasing the effectiveness and quality of banking operations, and improving the level of services provided to bank customers in a manner that responds to the banking needs of individuals and corporations.” He added that “last year, we witnessed a qualitative transformation in digital entrepreneurship across the companies affiliated with Bank of Palestine Group through the upgrading of electronic channels and promoting their usage in the provision of banking and marketing services through the new version of the Banki mobile application and during the process of launching “My Wallet” application through PalPay Company.”

Al Shawa also referred to the various economic challenges that the bank was confronted with during 2018, whereby economic indicators witnessed a setback that affected the performance of the economy and the banking sector. According to Shawa, “despite these challenges, the Group’s vision and strategy were built on the principles of flexibility and resilience in governance, which in turn contributed to empowering the Group to overcome these challenges and maintain stability in growth and other indicators.”

In terms of financial results during 2018, Al Shawa clarified that the results achieved by the Group were positive, whereby it managed to achieve a 4.94% in total revenue, allowing it to achieve net profits in the amount of $54.1 million after taxes. The Group also managed to maintain a stable growth rate within an ambiguous environment of the political and economic levels. It also maintained its status in the field of financial inclusion by adding a new experience to the concept through the launch of the first mobile branch “Banki Rahhal”, which is a bus that travels in all Palestine governorates and remote villages to provide banking services and raise banking awareness. Al Shawa stressed that “despite the difficult economic circumstances confronted by Palestine, the Group continued to provide its customers from the various economic and social sectors facilitations that allow them to proceed and develop their business transactions.” According to Al Shawa, “the total facilitations provided by the Group by the end of 2018 reached $2.68 billion.” He also added that the bank maintained shareholders’ equity that exceeds $416 million.

According to Al Shawa, “during 2018, the Group continued to grow and expand across the Palestinian governorates, and made important reference to the opening of the first Bank of Palestine branch in Dahyet Al Bareed in East Jerusalem, with an aim to support Jerusalemites and promote businesses, economic activities and projects, thus strengthening the Group’s developmental impact in the city.”

He also pointed out the Group’s continuous interest in providing activities especially to Palestinian women, whether by empowering them through the Felestineya Program, promoting their presence in managerial positions, or by involving them in the fields of health, awareness and social entrepreneurship.

In the field of corporate social responsibility, Al Shawa stressed that the bank continues to allocate 5% of its annual profits to various social projects, including education, health, culture, sports and human endeavors, while focusing on raising awareness about health issues such as cancer and diabetes. This being said, Al Shawa expressed pride in the launch of the first mobile Pink Clinic for the early detection of breast cancer. According to him, “this clinic is expected to decrease the spread of the disease among thousands of women by raising their awareness and providing early tests.”

In conclusion, Al Shawa stressed that “the bank will continue to contribute to the development of the national economy by supporting several sectors, including small and medium size enterprise, youth, women, innovation and entrepreneurship, because we all need to participate in building our future.” He expressed his appreciation and gratitude for trust and support expressed by the Group shareholders and the General Assembly, and thanked the Board of Directors for creating successful strategies. He also thanked the executive management and employees for their hard work and continuous giving. His thanks were also extended to company controllers, the Palestine Monetary Authority, the Palestine Market Authority and the Palestine Exchange.