THE Pan-Oceanic Bank Chairman, Upali de Silva, says his company is optimistic about achieving progress based on the overall economic growth projected by the Democratic Coalition for Change (DCC) Government when it launched its policy statement last week.
Mr de Silva made the remarks when he and the POB Chief Executive Officer, Nihal Kekulawala made a courtesy call on Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, Monday.
He told the Prime Minister that the bank will also hope to experience a corresponding surge in growth.
“The bank is adamant that the 5 percent economic growth projected by the government will ultimately improve our operation here in Solomon Islands as were are already starting to carry out expanding our operations to other provinces, notably, Malaita and Western Province by mid this year.”
Supporting Mr de Silva’s remarks, the POB CEO Mr Kekulawala said, the bank will soon embark on expanding its operations, firstly by installing Automatic Teller Machines (ATM’s) and afterwards setting up branches at the provinces.
Mr Kekulawala said, DCC’s land reform policy will free up land in the rural areas and bring about investment to the rural communities.
“Our decision to bring the banking experience to the rural area will be easier when Solomon Islanders will open up their land for development.”
“If we consider that 85 per cent of the land are held by landowning groups, then surely, land as a commodity will generate income. The Pan Oceanic Bank is looking at the lower end of the market- the farmers and the rural entrepreneurs”.
Mr Kekulawala said, the bank is looking at establishing partnership with other institutions such as the Solomon Post to bring their services to the rural communities.
He said at the moment this Solomon Islands very own registered bank is only operating in Guadalcanal with more than 7000 customers but this will change soon as the bank develops a broader customer base.
In response, the Prime Minister thanked Mr de Silver and Mr Kekulawala for calling on him and enlightening him on the progress of POB’s operations.
Prime Minister Sogavare said he is impressed with the progress the bank made since it started operation last July, as it now has a branch at the Panatina Plaza.
He said he is keen to see POB unlock opportunities in the rural areas by offering the rural populace, especially farmers who lack financial services offered by other banks, more chances to utilise its banking services.