The National, Thursday June 20th, 2013
By GYNNIE KERO
THE Gulf provincial government has signed a deal with Bank South Pacific yesterday that will bring back financial services to the province.
Governor Havila Kavo said that the Gulf people could now look forward to it after years of having no access to banking services.
“There is no need to travel to Port Moresby for the service,” he said.
Work on the new branch will begin next week and is expected to be completed by year-end.
Kavo promised the people and the provincial government would look after the service and the staff.
“The Gulf provincial government and administration have committed K1 million, two automated teller machines (ATMs) and infrastructure for the new BSP Rural branch,” he said.
Kavo added: “The absence of a bank affected the development of the province because economic activities declined with businesses suffering setbacks … likewise, our public servants suffered thus affecting the delivery of services to the 200,000 people of the province.
“Gulf province would be a major economic hub in the next few years, and it is timely for BSP to return as it would encourage the active participation of my people in our development efforts.”
Under the agreement, BSP will set up a rural branch with eight staff to provide basic banking services such as accepting deposits, processing withdrawals and opening new accounts.
BSP closed its branch in Kerema in 2008 after it was robbed of big sums.
BSP said an agreement is in place for an agent in Ihu district, west of Kerema.
Agents will be set up in other areas in the province in the coming months.
The bank would also roll out its mobile banking scheme in the area and teams will come to sign up new customers.
BSP Group chief financial officer and deputy chief executive officer Johnson Kalo said the bank was pleased to sign the deal with the Gulf provincial government.
He said the return of BSP to Kerema was the first step in providing banking services to the people.
Kalo said the bank would monitor the branch’s progress to determine if a network branch would be necessary to be set up later
BSP’s rural and mobile banking rollout programme could only be sustained with support from the leaders of the communities and their people, according to Kalo.
He said that while rural banking services are essential in increasing the financial inclusion of the rural people, rural BSP banks and agencies would only continue to operate in a safe environment.
Kalo warned that any criminal acts against the BSP facility in Kerema would cause its permanent closure.
He said BSP was proud to return to Kerema to provide the much-needed services.