It is gratifying to be in Mungwi on the befitting occasion of the opening of the first ever commercial bank branch of the Indo-Zambia Bank. This is in extremely joyous moment and a significant development, which forms part of the PF robust development agenda anchored on inclusiveness designed to cover all the corners of Zambia. Government commends and salutes the vision and laudable efforts of Board and Management of Indo-Zambia.
Madam Chairperson your bank is government ‘s veritable partner in fostering accelerated development of our country, which is the only way to make concerted assault on poverty, which is a slur on our collective conscience.
The Mungwi branch will provide the residents in all the surrounding areas access to banking services ranging from deposits to various loan facilities.
People will no longer travel long distances to Kasama and other places for banking services and employees in the public sector can receive their salaries locally with savings in travel costs and time too.
Banks play a critical role in the development of countries. Capital mobilization, which entails fostering savings that are later converted into productive investment, is an inevitable step in the process. Expansion of branch network is a notable value addition and facilitates growth through strategic position to enhance the banks’ role in the country’s economic activities. It is in this context that government has taken all conceivable measures to create a decidedly enabling environment for banks as core institutions of development.
As government it is our considered view that meaningful sustainability, wealth creation and rapid growth in employment opportunity can be better achieved through small and medium enterprises. The country has an abundance of people with entrepreneurial skills and desirable work ethic. What lacks is logistical support to these diligent men and women.
Government has interests in state financial institutions. For commercial banks we have equity participation in Zambia National Commercial Bank and Indo-Zambia Bank.
In August last year we transferred shares in these two institutions from the Minister of Finance as shareholder on behalf of the President and Government to the newly created Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). The IDC has been detailed to spearhead the initiative for ZANACO and Inda-Zambia Bank to team up. Opening of Inda-Zambia here in Mungwi brings the total number of Inda-Zambia Bank Branches to thirty-two (32) .
ZANACO has sixty-six (66) Branches. The eventuality of the two banks teaming up would create a large size bank, a high level of capitalization and a branch network of one hundred (100).
With an extended and assured resource base further expansion would be logical sequel and stand an enlarged bank in good stead and an unassailable market position. Large-scale banks are the in things of the day at the global level.
Large size means acceptable rationalization and sensible cost structures that permit quantum leaps and ingrained ability to cope with the rigors and exigencies of increasing competition.
Banks in Zambia have grown and survived because of a captive market and stiff interest rates which inhibit growth and make our economy a high cost one and uncompetitive
in the global markets. Our banks are not characterized by creativity, resourcefulness and initiative. There is no compelling urge and compelling need for those attributes when one operates in a captive market. In the not too distant past banks also comfortably survived because government kept large balances with commercial banks which the banks used to their advantage.
The banks smartly used these balances to invest in Treasury instruments at a handsome consideration. Government also imprudently, rather inadvertently borrowed from the banks money a part of which was government balances held by banks and paid interest on the borrowed money.
Well, this has ended with the establishment of a single Treasury Account, which was fully operationalized early this year. This and tightening by the Bank of Zambia has reduced the lavish liquidity which the commercial banks had and was not always used constructively especially in the foreign exchange markets.
Interest rates in Zambia are very high and they reduce and even pre-empt the economy’s growth prospects. As government we are not entirely blameless. Large budget deficits or gaps, which are financed by recourse to the market, send interest rates up and the banks compound things by yet heartless margins. A combination of these factors engenders inflationary spirals, which inflict severe hardship particularly on segments of our population with scanty incomes.
That’s why government even under severe economic stress largely induced by adversities in the global economy has embarked on a crusade of bringing budget deficits to the bearable minimum. It is our expectation and hope that in due course banks will lower the interest rates so that the economy through small and medium enterprises can be invigorated as part of the process and programme for poverty eradication. The idea of a large size bank in which government through IDC participates is shrouded in these aspirations.
The PF administration has high approval rating from the electorate because of development projects throughout the country. In Mungwi District and the large Malole Constituency we can confidently sonta pa;
Construction of thirteen (13) Health facilities .
Construction of the Nseluka – Kayimba Road.
The opening of the Nondo – Rosa – Shimpa Roads up to Chimba.
Facilitation of the Malole Constituency rural parts to the National power grid.
Please allow me note the stupendous efforts of the local Member of Parliament my colleague Hon. Christopher Bwalya Yaluma. It is difficult to find a more ardent apostle of development. As you endorse a reliable aide of our beloved President and his running mate more development projects will be in train.
In President Lungu we have a person who deserves our unqualified endorsement. Our Overwhelming vote for President Lungu means putting Zambia’s destiny in the safest hands. His humanity, compassion, embracing all of us and irrevocable commitment to serve our country diligently and dutifully stand him in extremely good stead. His attributes are the kind that should be the firm foundation and ethical/ moral benchmarks and our legacy to posterity.
This is the only positive way to remember and honour the memory of our departed hero Michael Chilufya Sata as we pray that the Good Lord help us to maintain our collective wisdom of keeping Zambia a beacon of human fellowship.
As we go to the polls in thirty (30) days from now, an event which will renew the PF and President Lungu ‘s mandate most emphatically let us continue to embrace each other and sustain the harmony, accommodation and tolerance which have made Zambia a place of distinction and a role model for mankind. Our other compatriots who have a right to think differently even though they may inexorably drift to total and irreversible obscurity and even oblivion will deserve our collective compassion.
That is the magnamity that makes Zambia a unique place in the community of nations. The PF is a vehicle for translating
our dreams and aspirations into programmes of actions to launch and consolidate the prosperity of our country and hence the transformative agenda which has not been witnessed in the previous administrations in Zambia. In the last five years we have cleared a lot of .backlog of development arrears particularly by attending to infrastructure which is an essential prelude to any form of sustainable development. Now we will go forwards in a sustained, measured and structured way.
As I wind up let me applaud the magnificent efforts of Inda-Zambia to grow the bank.
The total business mix has already surpassed K3 billion, an impressive achievement. However seen in the totality of development requirements of the country that is just a tip of the iceberg. That makes my idea and suggestion of a big bank in which even reduced shareholding would be a big proportion of the larger entity, needs to be addressed with seriousness and an aura of urgency.
Let me again commend the Bank, its Directors and Management for the superb efforts. It is now my pleasant and esteemed duty to declare the Mungwi Branch of Indo Zambia Bank Limited officially open.
Thank you and God bless.