As the new year looms, Guyana’s Private Sector Commission (PSC) is set to increase lobbying efforts for easier access to loans and the modernisation of the country’s banking sector.
Once that is achieved, PSC Chairman Paul Cheong believes it will propel locals to participate more in Guyana’s nascent oil and gas sector.
“There are still a few things that we need to work on access to finance, there are a few adjustments that we need to make as a country,” the PSC Chair said in a recent interview with the News Room.
Giving context, Cheong stated that better provisions should be in place to accommodate smaller businesses that do not possess the required collateral for loans, as this is a common hurdle faced by many businesses under the PSC.
He explained: “Banks can accept movable assets as collateral for loans because not many of the small businesses have other fixed assets like land that they can give as security.”
“So, we have to work with the government and get them to understand and put those things in place so businesses- small business, small or medium sized businesses- can have more access to finance to improve their business,” he highlighted.
The PSC Chair also stated that there is need for a shift to more electronic modes of banking, an issue that has been heavily ventilated publicly.
Recently, President Irfaan Ali bemoaned the very issue at the PSC’s dinner and award ceremony.
The Head-of-State did not mince words and called on the banking sector to “do more for development.”
According to the President, “The bankers are innovating more and more ways to make transitions to the bank hard…it is absolute nonsense, it is not in any international requirement for a man to withdraw $25,000 and fill up a whole load of forms…so how are we even going to get to e-transaction.”
“The banks are hopeless in customer-care and customer-handling. I’ve said it publicly, they have to fix it, unnecessary burden on customers and consumers. People are at the centre of everything we do–people are unhappy with the system,” he continued.
President Ali stressed that it is imperative that the existing problems are fixed since, institutionally, the systems do not support the technology.
Cheong, like President Ali, stressed too that more needs to be done to change the system if the country is to transition to electronic banking system.
He highlighted that with the evolution of technology, persons should not be forced to stand in “long lines at the banks for hours” just to complete a simple transaction.
“We need to move more and more away from physically going into the bank. And the technology is there – we do not have to reinvent the wheel. Local content without access to money for the businesses to do the work is going to be a failure so it is important that we work to find a solution and the banks need to play their part,” the PSC Chair stated.