President David Granger is urging local banks not to become clones of foreign commercial banks.
This call was directed particularly to the indigenous banks of the country who he said have an obligation to cater to the needs of all sectors of society.
The Head of State said during the opening ceremony of the new Citizens Bank branch at the corner of Camp Street and South Road, that indigenous banks have a vital role to play in ensuring that financial services become more inclusive.
“Indigenous banks particularly have a duty especially to micro and small scale enterprises which traditionally have felt excluded and marginalized from the foreign banking system. The financial exclusion of large sectors of the population from access to banking services creates social exclusion and social exclusion exacerbates poverty and marginalization.”
According to Granger, this situation was common within the colonial era when banking was perceived to be the preserve of the privileged and the rich. He said that Citizens Bank, however, was different.
The President said that the bank began its operations in 1994 as an arm of Citizen’s Bank Jamaica and became fully owned by local companies and shareholders in 1998. “It is therefore a member of the third generation of indigenous banks in Guyana.
“The indigenization of the commercial banking sector provided greater access to financial services. It promoted the intermediation of funds to the productive sectors; it witnessed the provision of banking services to geographic areas which previously had little or no access to such services.”
As a result, Granger said that banking services became more inclusive. “Today Guyana’s indigenous banks ought not to try to become clones of foreign commercial banks. It should seek to transform the character of their operations by aligning their services to meet the needs of local businesses, local communities, local entrepreneurs, particularly the micro, small and medium scale enterprises.”
He added that his government supports the micro; small and medium scale enterprises because they provide new employment, promote innovation and entrepreneurship, empower marginalized groups, generate export earnings and contribute to improve social conditions such as the reduction of poverty.
“Guyana’s indigenous banks are better prepared than others to play a part in economic transformation of this country. The hosting of local government elections and the establishment of three new capital towns located in the hinterland regions last year created new needs in banking services. Guyana is fast becoming a green state pursuing a low carbon low emission path to economic development.”
The Head of State said that the “Green State” will see the emergence of new economic sectors and the revitalization of traditional sectors.
“The Green State will place greater emphasis on agro-processing on education and eco-tourism services on energy saving technologies, on information communication technology, on low emission manufacturing, recycling and solid waste management and sustainable energy development.”
He added that the “Green State” will allow the country’s indigenous banks to diversify their portfolios. According to Granger, these banks can make a difference in facilitation development by financing green projects which are people centred and supporting micro, small and medium scale enterprises.
During his initial remarks, the President reminded that the location which the new branch occupies was once a bakery, popularly known for its sweet bread.
He said that Citizens Bank is part of the long lineage of banks initiated by the British Guyana Bank which was incorporated 180 years ago in November 1836. “Those banks as we know profited from the payment of compensation after the legal abolition of enslavement in 1834 and before the Africans were actually freed in 1838.”
Granger added that as time went by several foreign multinational banks came into the country during the colonial period and these banks dominated the financial sector up to the time Guyana became a Republic.
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