– mulls deposit insurance for savings accounts
By Leonard Gildarie
The David Granger administration has announced major plans to strengthen the banking system with the
licencing of a number of out-of-town cambios in the making.
The announcements were made recently when Finance Minister Winston Jordan presented his 2016 National Budget.
Speaking on the plans by Government for the financial sector, Jordan noted that every citizen should have access to financial services – be it savings, loans, and the systems that facilitate financial transactions.
“The Government is committed to supporting the development of the financial sector and improving its ability to meet the needs of everyone,” he said.
This year, a number of actions will be taken.
The Bank of Guyana will licence cambios located outside of Georgetown, in order to facilitate businesses and individuals who reside in rural, hinterland and other remote or isolated areas.
With cambios mostly in the city and at the commercial banks, visitors and others have been relying on the use of ‘money-changers’ who are mostly unregulated.
With an increasing amount of business being generated in the hinterland, especially in the gold and logging sector, the introduction of more cambios is being seen as a plus, in especially places like Skeldon, in East Berbice, and Lethem, Region Nine.
Jordan disclosed that this year Bank of Guyana, as the regulator for the banking sector, will conduct a study on implementing deposit insurance in Guyana, with the goal of rolling out a deposit guarantee scheme by next year. This action takes on heightened importance to protect businesses and individuals from losses in the case of a bank failure.
The administration is also mulling the possibility of introducing financial services in the rural areas, though these do not necessarily have to be conducted by a bank.
Minister Jordan explained: “The Bank of Guyana will examine the feasibility of agency banking, which would allow local non-banks to provide some financial services. Agency banking has the potential to dramatically improve access to banking in rural communities. The Bank of Guyana also plans to support the expansion of mobile money, which would allow more people to save and transfer money using their phones, thereby reducing the transaction costs.”
Already, a major entity like GTT is involved in the mobile money business, allowing customers to pay utility and other bills with their instruments.
In collaboration with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, the Bank of Guyana is planning to undertake a financial sector assessment.
According to the Minister, a scoping mission was completed during the latter part of 2015, with the substantive mission slated for later this year.
With regards to the regulatory systems in place to move commercial banks more in line with international standards, Jordan disclosed that the Bank of Guyana will be moving towards Basel II implementation, which will strengthen the regulatory framework governing banks, and also result in Guyana aligning its capital requirements with internationally recommended best practices.
“Basel II, which was introduced in 2006 by the Basel Committee on Bank Supervision, was intended to create an international standard for banking regulators to control how much capital banks need to set aside to guard against the types of financial and operational risks banks face. Basel II has three pillars: ensuring that bank capital is more risk-sensitive, ensuring that banks have adequate capital to support all the risks in their business, and enhancing disclosure requirements to make the risks banks take more transparent.”
Meanwhile, the Minister, in the budget speech, disclosed that the Financial Sector Reform and Strengthening Initiative (FIRST), a project managed by the World Bank, is providing technical assistance to the Bank of Guyana to strengthen supervision of the non-bank financial institutions and insurance companies.
“The initiative aims to close gaps in the supervisory perimeter, regarding prudential and non-prudential standards, and to build supervisory capacity. FIRST will assist with the development of a legal and institutional framework for market conduct and financial consumer protection,” Jordan promised.
As part of the financial consumer protection initiative, the Bank of Guyana will be enhancing its National Financial Literacy Programme.
“It is hoped that the average citizen will be empowered with the ability to make informed financial judgments and take effective decisions regarding the use and management of his/her money.”
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