BY THOMAS GBOW
The Sierra Leone Commercial Bank (SLCB) is the oldest indigenous commercial bank in the country established fifty years ago by the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL), while Rokel Commercial Bank (RCB), which is also owned by the GoSL, became another indigenous commercial bank after Barclays Bank had wrapped up business in Sierra Leone. The third indigenous commercial bank is Union Trust Bank (UTB) which is owned hundred percent by Sierra Leoneans as shareholders.
These indigenous commercial banks are working assiduously toward contributing largely to the economic development of Sierra Leone in terms of effective service delivery to the general public as financial institutions.
Like all other financial institutions the world over, our indigenous commercial banks provide various financial services in a more transparent and accountable manner to win the confidence of the general public so that more individuals and institutions will be convinced to do business with them. But since these financial institutions are run by human beings, we sometimes expect human errors to occur because of our differences in character and behaviour.
It is against this backdrop that stringent rules and regulations are instituted by these banks for their staffs and punishments are meted out to defaulters including legal action(s).
It is however unfortunate that though the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank (SLCB) and Rokel Commercial Bank (RCB) are the People’s Banks, some unscrupulous Sierra Leoneans have taken predilection in writing unpleasant things about them so that the general public would have low opinions about them.
For instance, even though the Management of SLCB has a non-compromising tolerance for any sort of fraud committed by its staff and therefore does not sweep such acts under the carpet, irresponsible journalists would present such fraudulent acts as if the Management were in support of them.
Because of greed, selfishness and extortion, some would even attempt to blackmail Executive Officers of our indigenous commercial banks whenever they take legal actions against their staff members caught in fraudulent activities.
But what these unpatriotic journalists have failed to realize is that while the dividends of foreign commercial banks operating in Sierra Leone are remitted abroad to their parent financial institutions, the dividends of both SLCB and RCB go straight into our National Consolidated Fund instead of individuals’ pockets.
Such dividends are expended by the Government for development programmes aimed at improving the lives of Sierra Leoneans, irrespective of region or ethnicity. Instead of vilifying our indigenous commercial banks for selfish reasons, it is about time we partnered with them in terms of national development - a kind of symbiotic relationship where we can depend on each other in particular ways.
By and large, it is gross unpatriotism for unscrupulous journalists to vilify our indigenous commercial banks with apparent impunity, when they (the indigenous commercial banks) are contributing in no small measures to national development as compared to those foreign commercial banks in the country. Let’s therefore change our negative perceptions about them and promote their business activities for the good of the nation.