With nine commercial banks, six insurance companies, three credit agencies, and one leasing company, Mauritania’s financial sector has big potential to grow. The banking sector was originally modeled on the French system. However, it has now been restructured and privatized and the Government has sold its equity stake in the commercial banks and insurance companies. Consequently, banks have considerably increased their capital and instituted stricter management controls. They have also begun to receive more customer deposits and to make more rational credit decisions. The Central Bank remains the banking regulatory agency. It controls interest rates, sets commercial bank reserve requirements, and is charged with financial and credit management. The Deputy Governor is the president of the Banking Commission and is in charge of banking system controls.
The banks’ financial statements are in compliance with international standards and are audited annually by local accounting firms. In practice, the major shareholders of banks tend to hold a large share of the loans, foreign currency, and other banking resources for their own private affairs. In response, the Government encourages the creation of popular savings and loan institutions to diversify the financial sector and to provide opportunities for people with small accounts.