The National People’s Cooperative Bank of Jamaica Ltd. (NPCB) is being hailed by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, for its role in providing financial assistance to businesses that are considered too high risk and even “unbankable”.
“The truth is, our micro small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and agricultural sectors need increased access to funding if they are to truly develop and be the catalyst for growth, which we know they can become,” she stated in a message at the bank’s 6th Annual General Meeting held yesterday (May 16) at the Kendal Camp and Conference Centre in Manchester.
The Prime Minister, in her message read by State Minister in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams, commended the management of the NPCB for the excellent work it has been doing in managing its affairs.
She pledged that the Government “will do all we can to make doing business in Jamaica far easier, beginning with the local investment and business community.”
Commending the bank’s support of the agriculture sector, Mrs. Simpson Miller said the Government is committed to building a modern, competitive and sustainable industry.
“It is a resolve that is even more critical today, as some 50 per cent of food consumed locally is imported,” she stated, noting that the import bill is close to US$1 billion per year.
She said the Government’s investment in the creation of agro parks is a clear signal that agriculture plays a critical role in the country’s quest for economic viability and will provide opportunities for expanding production for export and the domestic market.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Ffolkes Abrahams, speaking in her capacity as a State Minister, informed the shareholders that the bank’s success is important to Jamaica’s development.
“We, at the Ministry, consider (the NPCB) to be very important…to the development of Jamaica, because under you and through you, many businesses have succeeded. You are the backbone of the country and I want you to understand that importance,” she stated.
Outlining details of the Government’s Logistics Hub Initiative, the State Minister said the bank has a role to play in offering financing for small businesses, which will provide services for the hub.
General Manager, NPCB, Curtis Barnett, said the bank recorded improved performances last year. He reported a net surplus of $31.42 million from a net deficit of $23.47 million in 2011.
“The overall performance of the bank was quite encouraging as there were positive results in key areas of the bank’s operations based on increases in loans, savings, revenues and assets that resulted in total comprehensive income being $368.69 million compared with a comprehensive loss of $22.19 million in the prior year,” Mr. Barnett said.
He noted that the bank continues to make meaningful contributions to the Jamaican economy by being the premier source of loans to the agricultural sector. He informed that the NPCB participated in financing all major agricultural initiatives during the year, working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ).
At the end of 2012, the NPCB had total assets of $3.8 billion. Loans to members stood at $2.349 billion. The majority of the bank’s 150,000 members are small farmers, to whom approximately 75 per cent of loans are made.
Most of the funds for on-lending to agriculture and other sectors are borrowed from the DBJ.
CONTACT: ANDREA BRAHAM