GBTI on Saturday officially opened its third branch at Port Mourant, Berbice in keeping with its ambition to open nine branches countrywide between 2012 and 2016.
“We did this with quite a lot of research and we are still doing the research,” said Chief Executive Officer, John Tracey.
Port Mourant is the second branch to have opened for 2013, the first being at Port Kaituma earlier in the year.
GBTI has spent GUY$50 million on modifying the lower flat of a privately owned building at Port Mourant to house its branch there. Tracey said it would have cost at least GUY$200 million to construct its own bank rather than modify and rent the existing premises
The CEO explained that last year the bank paid attention on upgrading its “core banking software” that had required the re-deployment of a number of managers.
GBTI officials assured that the new branch would offer parking and adequate security for “heavy deposits”. He recalled that two banks had been robbed several years ago at Rose Hall.
The bank hopes to offer its services closer to existing customers in the sugar and rice industries as well as micro and family-owned businesses.
Tracey said the Port Mourant branch was also part of GBTI’s plan to position itself for developments in the hydrocarbon industry. A number of foreign and Guyanese companies are at various stages of oil exploration in the Corentyne Block.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh identified Berbice as the new centre for investments. “We believe, in fact, that Berbice is a growth pole of the future.”
Chairman of the Board of Directors, Robin Stoby urged customers to be patient when transacting business as the bank seeks to comply with the Anti Money Laundering and Countering of Financing Terrorism (AML/CFT) Act.
The Finance Minister noted that with the “regrettable” failure by the opposition-controlled National Assembly to pass amendments to the AML/CFT Act, banks in other countries are already imposing stringent rules in conducting transactions with financial institutions in Guyana. “Since the CFATF meeting just about a week and a half ago in The Bahamas there are jurisdictions that are already issuing advisories on doing business with Guyana, he said. They include all commercial banks and tjer licensed financial institution in Trinidad and Tobago that have been urged to be cautious un doing business with Guyana to minimize risks.
GBTI plans to hold Business Workshops in Berbice to train business owners in various techniques and strategies to improve their financial management.
The Finance Minister lauded GBTI for “very clear and resounding growth and success.”
Figures show that the bank’s loan portfolio grew from GUY$17.1 in 2009 to GUY$35.3 billion in 2012. The formal assets of the bank grew from GUY$53.9 billion in 2009 to GUY$87.6 billion in 2012. Total deposits grew from GUY$45.8 billion to GUY$77.2 billion over the same period. After tax profit increased from GUY$991 million in 200l9 to GUY$1.8 billion last year.
GBTI’s other branches are at Anna Regina, Essequibo Coast; Corriverton, Berbice; Diamond,East Bank Demerara; Lethem, Rupununi; Parika, East Bank Essequibo; Providence, Princess Hotel; Regent Street, Georgetown; Vreed-en-Hoop, West Bank Demerara, Water Street, Georgetown and Port Kaituma, North West District.