PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (February 23, 2009) – Banking is a tough proposition in the sprawling nation of Papua New Guinea with tough logistics, terrain and other factors.

It is not an industry for the faint-hearted.

In recent times, it has become a war zone. Criminals have laid siege to banks and used inside knowledge to press home their attacks on the banking institutions.

However, banking is an essential service to a country and it must be provided to as many people and in as many places as possible.

In some cases, there is good money in it for the banks anyway. The new chief of the Bank South Pacific, Ian Clyne, says the branch at Bialla, West New Britain, is re-opening after good community and police co-operation but states it is "not profitable’’ as a branch.

It is one of several loss-making branches in similar towns around the country that are kept running as part of the bank’s community service.

The people of Gulf Province must be wondering that their branch at Kerema Town is not getting similar treatment, whether that relates to the relative size of losses made there or the possibly greater risk of armed holdups at their location. But overall, the Bank South

Pacific has made extremely healthy profits in the past decade as witnessed by the returns issued to major stockholders like Nasfund and others.

The other commercial banks have been making inroads into that dominance and the Nationwide Micro-Bank is starting to win favour with villagers and with political leaders as they aim their sights on the bottom end of the market. As with any other business, the bankers will have to meet the crime menace head-on and find solutions.

These will undoubtedly be in alliance with the police and community leaders, but it is the banks that will have to show they are prepared for the hard times as well as the good times and can change their methods to cope with and master the new regime of criminals.

If the banks cave in and start retreating to the more defendable cities and towns, woe betide the economy and the government of Papua New Guinea.

Especially, the average citizens who rely on the banks to protect and boost their earnings.

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier:



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