Bank of Baroda looking to expand operations in Guyana

…signs agreement to become mortgage lender

Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh and Bank of Baroda, Managing Director Arun Gupta signing the agreement on Wednesday to turn facility into a mortgage lender

India-owned Bank of Baroda is looking to expand its operations locally, a turnaround lauded by Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh, since, only a few years ago, the bank was looking to exit Guyana.
This revelation was made on Wednesday during a ceremony at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) to confirm Bank of Baroda’s status as a mortgage lender. The bank’s Managing Director, Arun Gupta, observed during his presentation that the bank has multiple branches in countries all over the world, but not in Guyana.

Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh and Bank of Baroda Managing Director Arun Gupta share a handshake following the signing of the agreement to turn the facility into a mortgage lender. Also in photo are India’s High Commissioner to Guyana, Dr KJ Srinivasa and Ministers of Housing, Collin Croal and Susan Rodrigues

“We are in the process of considering expanding our product offerings. And we will be opening a few branches in the near future. That proposal is also under consideration. The Bank of Baroda is majority-owned by India,” Gupta said. “We have 10 branches in the United Kingdom. We have branches in Belgium, Singapore, Dubai. In African continent we have in Zambia, Kenya, Uganda. (We have) branches in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji.
“So, it’s a very big bank, but in Guyana we are very small in size, just two branches. But shortly we will be expanding that.”
It is a stunning turnaround, considering that the Bank of Baroda was on the verge of exiting Guyana’s market back in 2018.
In his presentation during the event, Minister Singh lauded the bank for its decision to maintain its presence in Guyana.
“I am delighted that we have moved from a place where, just two years ago, the conversation was about whether Bank of Baroda would be closing and withdrawing from Guyana. A bank, mind you, that has been here since Guyana became independent.
“I am delighted that we have moved to a point where the bank is now firmly present in Guyana, and is looking to expand its presence in Guyana, including by introducing new products and engaging in new partnerships,” Minister Singh said.
According to the Minister, the Indian High Commission was integral in the bank’s decision to remain in Guyana. In fact, the event featured the presence of current High Commissioner of India to Guyana, Dr KJ Srinivasa.
“We’re extremely pleased that the High Commission intervened when it did and made the necessary interventions on how attractive Guyana is from the point of view of potential growth opportunities, and that the senior management and head office of the bank was persuaded to remain open in Guyana,” the Finance Minister said.
With the signing of Wednesday’s agreement, Bank of Baroda will now be able to provide mortgage financing to homeowners by being designated as an approved Mortgage Finance Company in keeping with Section 15 of the Income Tax Act, Cap 81:01.
It was only last week that the New Building Society (NBS), which is already known for its low mortgage interest rates, announced a reduction in its interest rates. These twin measures are expected to open up increased opportunities for homeowners to get affordable mortgages.
NBS was also presented with approval to raise its loan ceiling from $12 million to $15 million, in keeping with one of the measures outlined in the 2021 budget by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government.
The increase in the loan ceiling is only one of several measures the Government is pursuing in a bid to re-energise an economy stunned by the COVID-19 pandemic, while at the same time presenting homeowners with more options in relation to borrowing funds.
Since coming to office, the Government has made it clear that it intends to fulfill its manifesto promise to distribute 50,000 house lots over the next five years. It had allocated $6 billion for enhancing infrastructure in existing housing areas in the 2021 budget. A significant sum has also been set aside for improving water service and developing new wells. (G3)