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Finance Minister Commissions New Skye Bank

Aug 6, 2009, 10:30 AM | Article By: Lamin Darboe

The Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Abdou Colley, yesterday presided over the inauguration of Skye Bank Gambia Ltd, a subsidiary of Skye Bank plc in Nigeria, at a ceremony held at the bank's headquarters along Kairaba Avenue.

This latest entry of Skye Bank into the Gambian banking industry brings to thirteen the number of banks in the country.

In his inaugural speech, Mr. Colley expressed appreciation to the bank for the initiative and urged them to abide by the rules and regulations of the Central Bank of Gambia.

He revealed that banks play significant role in the economic development of the country, and thus wished them good luck in their endeavour to realise their dreams and aspiration.

He further revealed that government would continue to promote the welfare of Commercial Banks in the country.

The Director of Skye Bank Gambia Ltd, Akim Yusuf, for his part, said the road to this day has been quite long and challenging, though a memorable journey on which they have received tremendous cooperation from the government and good people of the Smiling Coast of Africa, as well as the encouragement and understanding of the Central Bank.

"For all these we are grateful to various individuals who in their official and personal capacities have been pillars of support to the realisation of our dreams", Mr Yusuf said.

He expressed appreciation to the administration of President Jammeh for opening the doors of the Gambian economy to foreign investors and for maintaining one of the safest countries in the world to operate a business.

For his part, the Governor of Central Bank, Momodou Bamba Saho, said Skye bank's entry into the sector is a further demonstration of the role the banks are playing in the regional process.

He said the country has recently seen strong investment in the banking sector from the ECOWAS region. This, he added, has resulted in increased employment, the expansion of bank's branches to areas which previously did not have access to financial services and the adoption of new technologies to deliver such services.

"The Gambian banking sector has grown in strength in the past decade as banks have recapitalised, improved their business process and introduce new products", Mr Saho stated.

According to the Central Bank's Governor, despite this it is going to be a challenge to succeed in the Gambian banking industry. He said new entrants and the expansion of the structure of the financial system to include non-bank deposit-taking financial institutions had resulted in significant changes to the competitive landscape.

The banks that will do well in this competitive environment, Mr Saho went further, are those that are able to cut costs, innovate, implement appropriate risk management measures and provide cost effective services for their customers.

The Central Bank Governor, however, expressed concern over recent wage escalation in the banking industry. This, he added, had resulted in an increase in the cost of doing banking business and may be a source of risk.

He challenged the banks to further contribute to accelerating regional integration by encouraging their clients in one ECOWAS country to invest in infrastructure, agriculture tourism and others in other countries.     

Mr. Saho also urged all banks to exercise restraint and prudence in wage settlements, saying that banks must recognise that the share capital contributed by shareholders is small, compared to the volume of funds they hold in trust on behalf of depositors.