THE Peoples Power Action Party says it will create a new bank for Solomon Islanders if it comes into power after this year's election.
The creation of this micro-finance bank is one of the 10 policy initiatives of the party, which launched its manifesto yesterday.
President Robert Wales Feratelia said his party will amend appropriate banking laws to allow for the establishment of a new Microfinance Bank for Solomon Islands.
"Currently the banking sector has placed a stigma on the poor, excluding their access to banking resources," he said.
"It denies access by generating loans based only on guarantees or collateral arrangements and complex legal structures," the former banker said.
Therefore, Mr Wale said it’s time to turn the tables on traditional banking and go back to the roots of credit, i.e. “trust”
"During my many years of employment in the banking industry, I had noted the inflexibility of banking sectors approach to the poor, the marginalised, the unemployed and even the employed with low incomes," he said.
"We must understand that the banks are foreign banks and they are here to make profit just like any business entity.
"They conduct their business according to their established foreign banking policies."
Mr Wale said the survival of their banking operation depends very much on depositors’ monies.
"They use depositors’ monies (your money) to lend to the government, business houses and individuals and in return they pay a small interest on top of your savings," he said.
"It’s time the government set up a Micro-finance Bank for Solomon Islands.
"This institution is going to be the financial mechanism to properly coordinate the development funds allocated by the government to the constituencies, namely, the RCDF, the Millennium Goal Development Fund, the Micro Projects Fund, and Rural Livelihood Fund."
Mr Wale said the bank will also take over the coordination of the funds in the development ministries, such as Agriculture, Fisheries, Tourism, and Trade & Commerce.
"This Microfinance Bank will be accessed by the poor rural people to obtain funds for their self-income generating projects.
"The banking policies will be home-grown and will be designed to assist people to have seed money to start their own projects and business," Mr Wale said.
He said this credit facility will encourage wider and optimum participation of Solomon Islanders in development.
"If you go past BSP Bank you will read these words –“BSP Bank – your bank” Tell me, how much share do you own in BSP?"he asked.
"PNG government owns 38% and the other 62% is shared among the other shareholders – How much do you own? You work it out."
Mr Wale said this Microfinance bank will deal mainly with retail banking – i.e. savings and lending.
"The current existing commercial banks can continue on with their normal banking services.
"But at least we provide another banking opportunity for Solomon Islanders," he said.
By EDDIE OSIFELO
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