Twenty years later

Business Page


Today I return to and conclude the topic started on December 16, 2012 to mark the 20 year anniversary of Business Page. I chose the banking sector to mark the occasion because that sector was in the inaugural column, and I thought it would be useful to see how the sector had performed over the two decades.  Twenty years ago the Government played a big role in the banking and financial sectors in Guyana. It owned and operated the Guyana National Co-operative Bank (GNCB) and also had major interests in the National Bank of Industry and Commerce and the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI). The only other commercial banks operating in Guyana twenty years ago were the Bank of Baroda Ltd, an Indian-owned multinational, and a branch of the Canadian-owned Bank of Nova Scotia. Other players in the financial sector were the Guyana Co-operative Agricultural Development Bank (GAIBANK) and the Guyana Co-operative Mortgage Finance Bank (GCFS), both wholly-owned Government entities, and the New Building Society Limited.

Twenty years later the government is completely out of commercial banking, GNCB and GAIBANK are no more in existence or operational while two new domestic banks are closing in on their own twenty years of operation. In other words, there is only one additional operator in the commercial banking sector and no new international bank in the twenty years since 1992. The ownership structure is one of concentration and control with one of the international banks (Scotiabank) still operating as a branch and the other (Baroda) a wholly owned subsidiary. RBL, GBTI and Citizens Bank are all subsidiaries with a majority shareholder, while DBL’s ownership structure is somewhat more complex, with its annual report disclosing that there is no shareholder whose interest exceeds 5% but whose annual general meeting, among the commercial banks, is probably attended by the least number of members.

20130113christopherIn the tables in today’s column we see that those banks have all done extremely well, surpassing the growth in the economy many times over. Let us take profits before tax. From nothing the Demerara Bank Limited and Citizens Bank Limited recorded pre-tax profits in 2011 of $1,279 million and $1,389 million respectively; the National Bank of Industry and Commerce which was renamed the Republic Bank (Guyana) Limited and acquired the operations, liabilities and certain assets of the GNCB has seen …..To continue reading, login or subscribe now.

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