The Bank of Namibia has called on commercial banks to continue to be open and accommodating to local small businesses, and to seek innovative ways to be more inclusive in helping and supporting economic recovery efforts.
The remarks were part of Johannes !Gawaxab’s Bank of Namibia (BoN) Governor’s speech delivered on his behalf by Deputy Governor Leonie Dunn at the Bankers Association of Namibia handover event the last week.
“The collective efforts of the sector have immensely helped some of our SMEs in need thanks to the relief measures put in place at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said! Gawaxab.
He added that the central bank was currently reviewing the criteria for the Covid-19 SME loan scheme: “We hope that the revision of the terms, previously considered too strict, can help struggling but viable companies to stay afloat and thus to save jobs”.
According to him, fees and charges remain a top concern for most customers, and the industry cannot ignore the outcry.
!Gawaxab said the central bank recently approved the regulatory fees and charges strategy to systematically examine issues from different angles and incorporate public views.
The result of the three-year strategy is to deal with the continuing outcry of high fees and charges, especially those levied by commercial banks.
In addition, the strategy seeks to ensure that quality financial services are accessible in affordable ways to all Namibians.
BAN and Bank Windhoek MD’s new chairman, Baronice Hans, said one of the ongoing challenges that need to be addressed over the next 12 months of Bank Windhoek’s tenure as head of the association is to clarify the role of the sector with the public and relevant stakeholders. .
“Information empowers people and enables them to make better choices, and I believe we need to make a concerted effort to ensure that our society has a better understanding of banking, and in particular of financial discipline and productive use of debt,” Hans noted.
Bank Windhoek took over from Nedbank Namibia as chair of the association for 12 months.
Nedbank Namibia chief executive Martha Murorua said credit risks for the banking sector could increase in 2022 due to potential interest rate hikes, inflationary pressures and a slower-than-expected economic recovery.
These difficulties affect the banking sector and the rest of the economy.
“The benefit of the pandemic is the immense strides BAN members have made in accelerating digital banking innovations, which has increased banking convenience for our customers, literally allowing them to bank from anywhere and at any time,” she said.