President Ali highlights importance of supportive policy framework as Demerara Bank opens new branch at Leonora
Demerara Bank Limited (DBL) opened its ninth Branch in Leonora, West Coast Demerara, Region Three, contributing to the substantial development unfolding in the region.
The state-of-the-art facility, constructed at a cost of $485 million, operates entirely on solar power.
During the official commissioning ceremony on Friday, President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali emphasised the crucial role of a supportive policy framework and fiscal planning in fostering the success of banks like Demerara.
“The success of this bank is the success of Dr Ashni Singh, the Ministry of Finance and the Government of Guyana.
“Banks do not become successful by themselves, it is the policy framework, it is the government, it is the fiscal planning,” he underscored.
President Ali highlighted a specific indicator, noting that in September 2018, non-performing loans in the banking sector were nearly 12 per cent. Presently, non-performing loans stand at approximately 3 per cent.
“This building is testimony to the speed, efficiency and quality that is associated with the bank,” President Ali remarked while praising the bank’s responsiveness to national development needs.
He emphasised the importance of ‘innovation, reorientation, and integration’ as key drivers of success in today’s business landscape, urging the bank to continue its forward-thinking approach.
Next year, the bank aims to collaborate with a major company to undergo a complete digital transformation, thereby significantly reducing the need for face-to-face transactions.
The president noted that two to five years from now, with the modernisation of the financial sector, Guyana must become a major hub for financial service, which encompasses not just monetary transactions but also the utilisation of human assets to provide comprehensive financial services.
He envisions a future where physical bank branches transition into ‘back offices’ supporting a faceless banking system.
This shift, driven by advancements in technology, will unlock opportunities for nearshoring, thereby creating more jobs and stimulating the economy.
“So, the concept of the assuring is certifying, and this is where the revenue from oil and gas will go, certifying our young people for higher paying jobs.
“So, they will be certified brokers, certified public accountants, chartered accountants, auditors, certified management specialists,” President Ali explained.
Highlighting the advancements in the banking sector, the president noted that as of November 2023, private sector credit had increased by 13.7 per cent.
Notably, credit to the rice milling sector experienced a substantial surge of 59.2 per cent since August 2020. President Ali acknowledged the significant role played by Demerara Bank in this growth.
Additionally, credit to the agriculture sector witnessed a growth of 34.9 per cent while the mining sector expanded by 25.1 per cent. Furthermore, credit extended to the construction and engineering sector saw a notable increase of 23.4 per cent, and lending for real estate experienced a growth rate of 21 per cent.
In terms of deposits, the private sector accounted for 77.9 per cent of the total deposit, while deposit by residents grew by 22 per cent.
President Ali spoke about the government’s planned development for Region Three including the commencement of a new stadium, new hotels, apartment buildings and two additional shore base facilities.
“This region will see massive transformation in agribusiness, investment opportunities, manufacturing, industrial development. In this area alone within this NDC we are talking about 20,000 houses,” he said. He was joined by Senior Minister in the Office of the President with within responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh.