The Cambodian Economy and Real GDP Growth have steadily recovered since 2009/2010 (6%) with forecasts for 2012-2013 improving to approximately 7%. Therefore, 2013 will be a year of business development and operational improvement, in addition to the implementation of First Investment Specialized Bank's (FISB) long-term strategic vision.
Since 2006, FISB has played a vital role in developing and investing in what we believe is the socio-economic backbone and future of Cambodia: Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and the Private Sector. Given FISB's prominence, leadership in Cambodia's Financial Sector, strategic vision, ethical business practices, customer service and optimism in Cambodia's growth prospects, we maintain our full commitment to continue delivering on our promise to our existing valued Customers and future Customers to help them develop and grow their own businesses for the long-term.
Our Customers' success is our success: FISB's strategic vision was designed with this in mind. This includes our policies of continuous business and operational improvement, increasing our loan portfolio and attaining the Corporate Governance standards and practices of the best Global firms. We are and have always been, determined to be an exemplary business leader in Cambodia in terms of accountability, transparency, meritocracy, risk management, corporate governance and fiduciary duty to raise the national and international perception of Cambodia and its businesses. As such, we commend the National Bank of Cambodia recognition of these principles and their latest directives on Corporate Governance to our industry.
The importance of SMEs and the Private Sector is also outlined in the Royal Government's "Phase II, Financial Sector Development Plan 2011-2020" and our Government is proactively pursuing macro-economic and fiscal management policies that support growth. The development of the financial industry has, and is expected to continue to help drive the economy upwards. We see this evidenced in Cambodia's improved ranking in the latest World Economic Forum's (WEF) Global Competitiveness Index (GCI): 85th/144 countries (up 24 places since 2010-2011's report). As Cambodia continues on this growth trajectory, we envisage a rapid increase in the growing "middle-income" demographic, which will only further contribute to the expansion of the economy. FISB is ready to serve this rapidly growing customer segment with our best-in-class financial services.
The New Year brings the opportunity for reflection and celebration. On behalf of the Board of Directors and as Chairman of First Investment Specialized Bank, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have made our past vitality and reinvigorated dedication to our future possible: the National Bank of Cambodia and other regulatory authorities for their support and guidance, all of our dedicated Staff at all our offices throughout Cambodia, and of course to our loyal valued Partners and Customers.
We look forward to working together with you to succeed in all your endeavors in 2013 and beyond.
Neak Okhna Huot Vanthan
Chairman and CEO