People’s Bank will be No. 1 bank - Chairman | Sunday Observer

People’s Bank will be No. 1 bank - Chairman

26 July, 2020
Sujeewa Rajapakse
Sujeewa Rajapakse

People’s Bank, a leading State- owned commercial bank, will aim at becoming the No. 1 bank in the country in the coming years, People’s Bank Chairman Sujeewa Rajapakse told Sunday Observer Business last week.

“We have been the number two bank in the past and now we are well geared with competent staff to achieve this feat soon,” said Rajapakse.

With a staff of over 7,500 and  a network of 750 branches, it provides  banking and treasury services for personal, commercial and corporate entities across the  country.

“We will ensure that SME entrepreneurs are provided adequate financial facilities to get over the present crisis and emerge as a vibrant sector of the  economy,” he said, adding that brand enhancement  is crucial to attract customers on a  large scale  and  foreign funding to the bank which in turn will trickle down to the  economy.

He said the bank will fall in line with the Government’s vision to support the economy.

According to the bank chief, the entity will play a pivotal role in the housing sector by providing low cost housing solutions.

“Being a service oriented organisation our number one priority is to provide an efficient service to customers and all stakeholders  through the branch network. We will empower and  enhance capacity by training staff,” Rajapakse said, adding that the bank has been playing a vital role since the outbreak of the global pandemic  looking at the country’s balance sheet.

The bank took steps to provide maximum liquidity to the system which had been severely affected due to the lockdown.It cut interest rates to single digit levels to help industries to be competitive in the global market. The bank has stepped up its services to make the country self sufficient in agriculture. Loan schemes focused on agriculture, dairy, and fisheries have been introduced through the ‘Aswanna’ loan scheme.

It has disbursed a large number of loans through these segments.

“We have not ignored artistes and those in the entertainment industry. Concessionary loan schemes have been introduced for them too,” Rajapakse said, adding that the bank is working with State owned institutions such as the Industrial Development Board to provide funding to industrialists seeking additional capital to develop enterprises.

The bank also provides working capital to tea, pepper and cinnamon growers.

The bank, according to the Chairman, is exploring the possibility of providing financial facilities at concessionary rates to industries focusing on important substitution.

Last week the bank  again slashed interest rates to nine percent across several loan schemes. The interest rates for all educational, personal loans and housing  have been slashed to nine percent while the interest rate for vehicle loans has come down to 10 percent. SMEs could obtain loans from 6 percent upwards.

“We have disbursed the most number of loans to customers and have attracted a large number of new customers,” Rajapakse  said, adding that the bank completely re-visited the way it operated in the past, to go to the customer rather than wait  till they come to the bank with innovative banking solutions such as the mobile banking facility which enables customers to transact through ATMs and CDMs with ease.

“Marking a milestone in operations spanning 60 years, the bank has bagged many accolades  and among them is being  the best digitised bank in the country which is  a testament that the bank embraces technology, adopts modern banking practices and attracts  young people to its staff,” the bank’s chief said.

The bank has set up full-fledged call centres to enable customers to sort out issues.

With regard to the role of the banking  sector in the present time, he said all banks should seriously look at how best they could provide the maximum support  to the economy through its customer base. This should be the attitude for the next three to four years.“I hope investors in the banking  sector will not expect high returns by way of dividends or enhanced share prices for the next three to four years.