“Opportunities for Banking Sector Growing,” Says Vice President Boakai

Saturday, 21st November 2009
Monrovia, Liberia - Liberia’s Vice President, Joseph N. Boakai Sr., has observed that  opportunities for the banking sector are growing as more businesses are poised to invest in Liberia.
He said with the Malaysian company Sime Darby ready to invest USD$800 million in rubber and oil palm at Guthrie in Bomi and Grand Cape Mount counties and an Indonesian company seeking a USD$1.5 billion investment in oil palm in southeastern Liberia, among others, the banking industry is bound to flourish in the country.
Vice President Boakai made the observation on November 20, when the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the First International Bank, (FIB), Mr. Sylva C. Ashimole, accompanied by the Bank’s General Manager responsible for Corporate and Institutional Banking, Mr. James Sirleaf, paid a courtesy call on him at his Capitol Building office.
Vice President Boakai told the bank executives that the Liberian Government was appreciative of the trend the banking sector is taking in post-war Liberia, with branches springing up in the leeward counties. He noted that with banks now open in rural areas, the practice of keeping money under mattresses or entrusting money to Lebanese and other merchants will become a thing of the past.
He also noted that opening branches in border towns like Foya would enhance trade and commerce among the Mano River Union countries, as well as attract customers from neighboring Sierra Leone and Guinea. He also argued that with the bad roads which have made access to the capital difficult, the need for banks to open branches in leeward areas has become more pressing.
He thanked newly established banks for what he called the “vote of confidence in the Unity Party-led Government,” and pledged Government’s commitment to create the necessary conditions that would help businesses grow.
Briefing Vice President Boakai, Mr. Ashimole disclosed that FIB, which currently has headquarters on Broad Street with branches in Red Light and Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, would open branches in Sinkor, Douala, Gaye Town, Sinkor and Ganta in Nimba County in the next couple of days.          
He said the First International Bank also intends to open branches in Sinoe and Grand Cape Mount counties in the near future. He added that the FIB has also launched a micro-finance scheme for women farmers. Mr. Ashimole said his visit was to solicit the Vice President’s advice on how FIB can further assist the Liberian people in micro-business, commerce and trading.
Also in remarks, Mr. Sirleaf said the FIB is now prepared and poised to assist the Liberian Government by investing in the agriculture area.