Republic Bank commits to financially supporting Guyana’s food security efforts

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Following on the heels of a meeting President Dr Irfaan Ali had with the Republic Bank (Guyana) Limited Board of Directors, the President has said that the bank has given its assurance that it is committed to financially supporting Guyana’s food security efforts and the “Vision 25 by 2025” strategy.

President Ali made this pronouncement on Tuesday, while at the ceremony for the sod turning of the US$35 million Four Points by Sheraton Hotel to be constructed in Houston along the Mandela to Eccles road link.

“Today I had an exciting discussion, with the Board of Directors of Republic Bank as to how we can unlock capital and engage the young people of Guyana and the Caribbean, in the food production process. How we can unlock the capital backed by governments, to propel them to create opportunities for them, while at the same time solving an important issue,” President Ali said.

The President later further explained that they are discussing a strategy whereby Republic Bank can increase its support for the agriculture sector. Already, the bank has committed US$100 million in financing for the agriculture sector, through the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Sustainability Agriculture Credit Facility.

It had been explained at the time that the facility will provide funding for up to five years for repaying up to GY$2 billion to Guyana and US$100 million to all Caricom member states, with interest rates as low as 2.5 per cent. According to Ali, the commitment he got from the Board of Directors can be considered to have encompassed this as well.

“What we are discussing is a strategy. And what I have commitment on is a strategy, to support our vision on food security. So, discussion and generation of idea is the first step. The vision, the idea and then crystalising the idea and the vision, into reality, is not guess work. It calls for very strategic thinking.”

“And that is what the discussion is about. Strategically positioning the idea and the policy, in the corporate sector, in this case Republic Bank, to support that vision. And what I can assure you is that they’ve given their full assurance that they are in line with the strategy and thinking. Let us see in a few weeks.”

Nor is Republic Bank the only bank that has been tailoring its financing options to the agriculture sector. Less than two months after Demerara Bank partnered with the Guyana Government to launch its Farmers Credit Line programme, some 206 farmers are already benefiting from financial assistance provided by the bank.

In May, Demerara Bank launched the Farmers Credit Line that provides much-needed financing to farmers, mostly those along the coast. The loan ranges from $1 million to $1.5 million with a low interest rate and does not require any collateral from applicants.

In a recent interview with this media entity, the Bank’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Parvinchandra Dave, disclosed that since rolling out the initiative, 206 farmers have benefited from some $250 million in financing.

“The base feature of this advance is it’s an overdraft. It’s a credit card loan. They can use their credit card at any time. Once you get a loan of $1.5 million, not necessarily you will withdraw [the entire] $1.5 million. But the facility is available in your account so you can withdraw $200,000 or $300,000, deposit it back then withdraw and repeat again,” he explained.

According to Demerara Bank’s General Manager, Dowlat Parbhu, the amount given to each farmer is specific to their needs but the facility is a maximum of $1.5 million. This credit line carries an interest rate of 6.5 per cent.