The Assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samson Guma Moyo, on Friday applauded Botswana Savings Bank for its commitment to providing affordable banking services to the less privileged communities in the country.
BSB was established as an independent and autonomous financial institution wholly owned by government, through the Botswana Savings Bank Act of 1992, with a clear mandate of promoting the savings habit amongst Batswana.
Speaking at the official opening of the Francistown branch, he said the branch would provide relief to BSB customers as it comes at a time when public outcry on cost of quality banking services is at peak.
“BSB has, over the years, promoted both rural and urban development and participated towards the national goals of economic development and poverty reduction,” he said.
Moyo referred to a FINSCOPE survey conducted in 2004 and 2006 which revealed that 50% of Batswana are still “unbanked”. He said that such revelations are a challenge to Botswana’s banking sector to improve their services and avail them to the people adding that it is upon banks like BSB to fill the worrying gap.
While most of the people who transact through BSB are rural people who are often referred to as “unbanked”, it has emerged that such people don not choose to be categorized such, but are rather excluded by certain circumstances or undesirable banking practices like high charges, lack of convenient products and high minimal thresholds required to open a bank account.
“In an effort to cater for the so called “unbanked”, BSB has been providing financial inclusion for all through provision of affordable banking services using the wide network of postal services available in Botswana,” Moyo said.
BSB also provides low minimum thresholds for opening accounts which allows various segments of income levels to open accounts with less restrictions. The bank also charges affordable banking charges which are tailored to attract customers in the low income bracket.
“In this regard BSB should be regarded as a major player in improving the living standards of all citizens, including the less privileged or disadvantaged people in our communities,” he said .
The minister also said that mobilization of domestic savings should be at the top of the local savings agenda to provide more cost effective avenues for source of funds for the national budget.
“National programs for any country are dependent on the capacity of banks to mobilize national savings. It is these savings that are channeled to real productive propositions in the economy as a whole” he added.
For his part BSB Managing Director, Landrick Sianga, said that the opening of the Francistown branch is a partial fulfillment of the bank’s corporate strategy which has been sanctioned by stakeholders among them government, the BSB Board of Directors, customers, Botswana Postal Services and the Central Bank.
Sianga added that BSB customers are distinctive in the financial services sector because over 70% of them are rural community dwellers.
“The bank recognizes the special needs of these customers and Botswana Postal Services has over the years provided us with a formidable platform to provide affordable banking to our customers” he said.
He also said that BSB is currently undergoing major transformations in a bid to provide better customer service, in response to the ever increasing customer demands and to the challenges posed by competition within the banking sector.