High interest rates unpopular
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Monday 7 January, 2008 saw the official inauguration and laying of the foundation stone of Banque Sahelo-Saheliene pour L'investment et le commerce (BSIC). That occasion marked the initiation of the 10th bank in to the line of growing financial institutions in the Gambia. Accordingly, BSIC is the first ever investment bank to set up in the country, ushering in a new dimension in the country's booming banking sector.
What is more significant about the coming of this new entrant is that it is a product of an inter-governmental treaty, which seeks to explore ways of financing commercial activities including foreign trade and development projects on infrastructure, energy, among others, all geared towards attaining to the immediate needs of the masses.This Pan - Africanist outlook leaves the BSIC with a unique focus, but it by no means excludes it from the inevitable competitive atmosphere. In fact, its arrival adds on more competitive pressure.
For the average banker though this growth in the banking industry may not be appealing, but it is what all business and development oriented societies yearns for. As the central bank governor Bamba Saho put it during his inaugural speech, the banks that are likely to survive this competitive environment would be those that are, among other things, innovative, 'implement appropriate risk management measures and provide cost effect services for their customers.'
Indeed, there is not a single business entity in this country that, prior to their establishment, do not struggle to showcase their potential customers as their key concern, yet in practice they do very little to safe guard the interest of these poor people.
Among the most repulsive practices by Gambian commercial banks is the high interest rate levied on loans. This leaves the many poor Gambians with the choice of staying away from loans rather than taking them. The obvious beneficiaries are therefore the rich business men, with extortionist tendencies.
A modernised information system and an increase range of products that makes sense to the people financially, as well as better quality services to customers, will probably serve as a solution to some of these problems. And this is exactly what we need. A successful business is not one that makes big profit, but one that does not leave out its customers.