President challenges local banking sector to seek out regional investment opportunities

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
President Dr Irfaan Ali speaking at the Local Content Summit

Guyana’s banking sector needs to be proactive in seeking out investment opportunities locally and abroad to help expand the economy.

This sentiment was expressed by President Dr. Irfaan Ali during his address to the opening of the Local Content Summit today.

Speaking to stakeholders in the public and private sector, the President noted that the traditional ways of banking which is “risk averse” can no longer be continued. In fact, he said the local bankers do not engage in banking but rather “traditional approach to money management.”

“Banking and finance is an art, an art of utilising the liquidity in the system through structural mechanism to grow wealth and create wealth. And we need to move up the value scale in the banking sector to have more investment type bankers who are on a daily basis analysing the opportunity in the market,” he said.

The Head of State added that there needs to be a big shift in the business mindset of the bankers to use more analytical tools to identify opportunities and propose same to their clients with a possible 10% or 15% return on investment.

Dr. Ali posited that “the banks are still working in a very archaic fashion, waiting for someone to bring in a business proposal to get financing and then they look at the least risky opportunity, but that needs to change. The bank has to see itself as a facilitating role in the development and expansion of the economy.”

Further, he said there is scope for a regional expansion noting that there is one bank in Guyana now that’s in the process of establishing a regional footprint by going into a different country.

According to the Guyana Association of Bankers Inc. (GABI) website, there are eleven financial institutions. The list includes Guyanese-owned Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry and its subsidiary Guyana Americas Merchant Bank Inc, Demerara Bank Limited, Hand In Hand Trust Corporation Inc., New Building Society, Citizens Bank Guyana Inc and the Trust Company Guyana Limited, among others.

“If we are building the capacity of companies here, what is the market we are targeting? Is it only building that capacity and scale and capability for the local market? Or do we now look at this capacity and scale that we are building locally and find regional opportunities, find extra regional opportunities through which we can deploy this capacity and expand the economic and financial opportunity for the local business? And that is where we have to position ourselves,” the President emphasised.

Other banks operating in Guyana include Republic Bank Limited which is also established in other CARICOM countries and Ghana, Bank of Baroda, Scotiabank Guyana and the New Hayven Merchant Bank.

The President also challenged other companies including consultancies, contractors, and distributors to expand their businesses to other countries in the region.