THE Government should not be directly involved in the process of Westpac acquisition.
The involvement of the Government will only lead to mishandling of a pure commercial arrangement between Kina Bank and Westpac and that can lead to job losses, suppression of banking expansions and competition in the country.
We have learned and experienced just enough over the last two years to confidently inform this Government to be mindful of its involvement in commercial activities which can lead to similar situations experienced in the resource sectors recently.
In response to the series of questions from Yangoru-Saussia MP Richard Maru in the recent parliament session regarding the saleof Westpac, Prime Minister James Marape said the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) is considering the acquisition of Westpac by Kina Bank independently and that MiBank, a subsidiary of National Development Bank (NDB) stands ready to become a commercial bank when Westpac leaves.
The prime minister should be true to his words and let the ICCC do the assessment so that consumer (bankers) services are protected, there are expansions in the banking services, competition is created against the Bank South Pacific Financial Group Ltd (BSP), which is the dominant force, and most importantly, no job losses for the current employees of Westpac.
Job loss is a nightmare and should not be experienced by any employees of Westpac under any circumstances. Kina Bank has strategies to acquire Westpac as revealed by chief executive officer Greg Pawson.
Some of the strategies include 50 per cent expansion within the next three years with a commitment of K25 million, promise to retain all employees of Westpac, creating 50 new PNG-based jobs within the first 12 months and nationalising senior positions.
That’s a reflection of having a plan and working to achieve it.
The announcement of the Westpac sale was made last December while the intention of Westpac and ANZ leaving the country was make known somewhere around last September.
The Government was aware of what was to come and the media reported about these moves.
Does the Government, through NDB, have strategies for future expansion into commercial banking?
The answer is in our history, and experiences.