Jan 16, 2017 News
– as Republic Bank opens new $1.5B branch at Triumph
President David Granger is calling for the expansion of banking and financial services across Guyana to meet the needs of the populace.
He made this appeal yesterday while delivering the feature address at the opening ceremony for the new Republic Bank branch at Triumph, East Coast Demerara.
Based on the successful holding of Local Government Elections last year, the President said that three new towns have been established at Mabaruma, Bartica and Lethem. He said that it is his government’s goal that every administrative region has a town, which will serve as an administrative centre, a commercial and communications hub and as an economic engine of growth.
He said that as a result, citizens will have easier access to financial services, which will in turn enhance welfare, facilitate business activity and contribute to improving income for the poor and disadvantaged.
“The evidence also suggests that the wider dispersion and deeper penetration of financial services will contribute to enhancing economic growth and reduce income inequalities. The opening of bank branches brings banking services closer to the people. Residents of East Demerara will have to travel to the city in order to access banking services no longer.”
The President said that the opening of the branch will promote the goal of increased financial inclusion, a key objective of his government. He said that the new branch will also serve to intensify competition in the financial sector.
“This branch brings the total number of branches in our country to 41 and Republic Bank Incorporated has a total of 12 of those 41 branches.”
He added that there still exists great potential for the provision of financial services further eastward and westward, so as to drive economic development in the hinterland and on the coast.
According to the Head of State who is now Chairman of CARICOM, despite Guyana’s increase in the number of bank branches, it continues to lag behind its Caribbean counterparts in extending financial services.
“Statistics provided by the World Bank indicated that in 2015, Guyana had only 8.4 commercial bank branches per 100,000 persons. The penetration compared unfavourably with Suriname, which had 11.1 and Trinidad and Tobago, which had 13.0. We also had fewer Automated Teller Machines (ATM) with only 17 ATM machines for every 100,000 persons compared to 41 in Trinidad and Tobago, these are deficiencies which we must address.”
Granger stressed that the commercial banking sector must take bold and innovative steps to bridge the gap between the services available on the coastland and those available in the hinterland. He said that activities cannot be confined to the coastal region.
He said that currently, many of the newly designated townships are without banks, including Mabaruma, forcing residents to make costly overnight trips to access banking services. The President said that his government is committed over the long term to ensure universal access to financial services throughout Guyana.
“We are in pursuit of the objectives of exploring alternatives to traditional banking services since we recognise that because of the smallness and the remoteness of some communities it would not be viable for banks to establish branches to serve those areas.”
Chairman of the Board of Directors and President of Republic Financial Holdings Limited, Nigel Baptiste, said that lobbying from former Managing Director John Alves, and the results of a feasibility study, resulted in the decision to open the company’s first branch on the East Coast of Demerara.
He said that the bank, which cost $1.5B to construct on 1.1 acres, is focused on building relationships which can endure and also in generating mutual trust.
“And we believe that we can only succeed in these relationships if we serve you in a way that satisfies your needs.”
Baptiste said that customers will enjoy an enhanced banking experience at the new location, matched by service from the friendly, courteous and knowledgeable staff. Thirty employees will be stationed at the branch lead by Officer in Charge Bibi Shaleeza Seepersaud.
“High among our priorities is building and solidifying relationships with the communities both as a financial service provider and in supporting social development.”
In keeping with the “Green Economy” direction of the country, the building has been equipped with energy efficient Lutron Quantum lighting and variable refrigeration flow air conditioning systems. It is complete with parking, wheel chair access and other amenities for customers’ convenience.
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