Q- Bank of Albania has noted that there was a downward trend in the banking sector in the first two months of the year. Adding to that the expected impact of the war in Ukraine, how do you think the banking system as a whole will perform in 2022? What about ABI Bank in particular?
Our expectations are that ABI Bank and the banking system as a whole will continue to grow during 2022. The consolidation of the banking system, the low level of lending to the economy and the investment potential in the Albanian economy will overcome the negative effects of the moment.
Q- Inflation has increased, and this will be reflected in the banking sector. What are the measures you have taken to cope with its chain effect?
At this time, we do not think that inflation is at dangerous long-term levels. Albania is a net deposit country, with very low expectation levels and very secure family support systems. If the tourism and construction industries continue to perform (and it makes a lot of sense that they will continue to perform), we believe the economy as a whole will balance the impact of inflation over time.
Q- Given the impact that businesses are facing from the pandemic and the war, do you think there will be a need for increased lending and liquidity support? What are ABI Bank’s plans for supporting the private sector
Our plan for 2022 is to have growth similar to that of 2021, so about 10 to 20 percent. The impact of the pandemic will lead to an increase in demand. It remains to be seen how much demand will increase inflation, but so far we do not see any worrying signs. It is worth noting that in recent years there has been an increase in salaries, something that does not get a lot of media coverage.
ABI Bank is now consolidated as a boutique bank and generally this business model is less influenced by the overall macroeconomic rhythms. We are very selective in our customers and most of our clientele comes in as referrals by existing customers.