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#499745 - 01/09/15 06:22 AM National Bank is coming to town!
Marty Offline
Building purchased for $3.01 Million from Pedmar Investment Company

The National Bank of Belize will be expanding its services to Belize City with the opening of a new branch in the downtown area.

The Reporter has been reliably informed that the new branch of the National Bank will be located at #53 Regent Street where the Infotel Call Center was previously located.

The information indicates that the government has already approved the purchase of the building for more than $3,000,000 from Philip Espat, the brother of Mark Espat who is the government’s Economic Ambassador.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow confirmed Thursday to The Reporter that the expansion is indeed under way, but said he is unable to give any further details about the initiative.

National Bank Chairman, Joy Grant also confirmed on Thursday that the expansion was already underway and added that the new branch should be ready for opening within the next few months, though she could not give a specific timeline.

Grant said there were still certain aspects of planning that need to be dealt with.

She added that the board of directors of the bank will meet at the end of the month to discuss their strategy for the new branch but in the meantime the location is being prepared and equipped with a modern IT system. Preparatory work is currently being done on and in the building in for the opening.

The National Bank of Belize was established in April 2013 using $20 million of PetroCaribe funds as startup capital. The bank’s mission is to provide low-interest credit to teachers, public officers and to the poor.

The Reporter

#499753 - 01/09/15 09:57 AM Re: National Bank is coming to town! [Re: Marty]
Katie Valk Offline
And then why was the bank offering xmas loans in ads in the newspapers?
Belize based travel specialist

#507152 - 09/04/15 06:17 AM Re: National Bank is coming to town! [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

National Bank Opens Bze City Branch

Two years after it was opened in Belmopan, today the National Bank of Belize christened its Belize City branch. The branch is located on Regent Street and is the first branch for the small but growing bank which is headquartered in the Capital. This morning at a very well attended opening, the General Manager said it is about getting closer to customers:..

Alvaro Alamina, General Manager
"To help in getting closer to our customers, we now have this modern new office at 53 Regent Street. This branch will mirror the activities of the Belmopan Branch, but will also offer new services such as night safe facilities, safety deposit boxes - targeting business and corporate customers in Belize City. The catchment area for this branch will mainly Belize City, San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Corozal, Orange Walk and the growing areas outside Belize City such as Ladyville, Lord's Bank, Burrell Boom and the other small villages in the Belize District. This bank will continue to follow its motto of being "the people's bank." Priority has been given from inception to those persons who fall within the low to middle income category. Going into the second year of operation, the bank is now offering a number of deposit accounts, in addition to a wide range of lending products including mortgage finance, vehicle finance, business loans, and personal loans. The focus presently is on rolling of other services to include online banking, debit cards and chequeing accounts within the coming months as well as placing more emphasis on consumer, business and corporate financing."

Jules Vasquez
"How many people will work here?"

Joy Grant, Chairman - National Bank
"I think when I checked with Mrs. Arnold, she told me it was 7."

Jules Vasquez
"7 people for this big building?"

Joy Grant, Chairman - National Bank
"Yeah but listen, we are very much computerized and its one system. So that was a challenge to make sure that this system is the same one in Belmopan and Belmopan at this point is the head office and this is a branch. So by using IT which is my thing, trying to push IT - just about everything will be computerized for the workers. So we are using less man power, but to get the same results."

Jules Vasquez
"Did you all really need such a grand and imperious building? This is just a branch. The branch is bigger than the headquarters."

Joy Grant, Chairman - National Bank
"Not with persons."

Jules Vasquez
"The physical space."

Joy Grant, Chairman - National Bank
"But then you want to grow man. You never have a bank for today. As I said today, we have this 176, I expect that to triple, quadruple in a very short period of time. But what is the goal, the aim, the vision for this branch, this will be our corporate headquarters. This is where we are going to reach out to the business community in San Pedro, in Caye Caulker, in Belize City and offer services that currently we are not offering."

Alvaro Alamina, General Manager
"We decided to create a look which will depict our image for the future."

Jules Vasquez
"This building a fit for the bank?"

Joy Grant, Chairman - National Bank
"Yes. I think that the building, what we wanted and we are glad that the building is this magnificent, because it sends a signal that we are not fly-by-night little thing. We want to be the best bank in this country. Like in Brazil, their national bank is the biggest bank in the country."

The Belize City branch opens for business on Monday September 7th. And as it moves into stylish and new "digs" in the city - the bank will also have to learn to fend for itself. Government has provided seed capitalization of up to 40 million dollars - but now it will have to attract depositors and fend for itself - according to the Prime Minister:..

Joy Grant, Chairman - National Bank
"Well capitalize at this point. However this is a good time for me to say that we want more deposits. We want bigger deposits, because we also want to do bigger loans. You cannot have a bank with only loans at a certain size. So we will continue to do that. The demand is there, but we want to go to the larger loans and larger deposits."

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"I think we put in something like 40 million dollars in equity. We gave a little something extra for the opening of the Belize City branch, because it means that the clientele would have expanded. But government is basically now going to draw the line and say that continue operations of the bank, the future operations of the bank will depend on now on the deposits that to take."

And while the bank looks for deposits, it also has to watch its loans portfolio. We asked about the moral hazard associated with having a state bank:

Jules Vasquez
"Now, I remember when you all had this very concessionary Christmas loan. People would line up at the bank from 5am. Now in all my knowledge of bank, I've never seen people line up to make a loan and when people do that it makes me wonder that you don't have to pay it back, because it's the government of Belize and Dean Barrow, in some Independence Day address he is going to forgive all the debts and we will all go to heaven in a little row boat."

Joy Grant, Chairman - National Bank
"That's an excellent question. There are two parts to that question; the first part was the amount of people that came for the Christmas loans, because even the Prime Minister called and said, what interest rates are you giving and I say we are comparable. We weren't lower than anybody else. Well I feel that Belizeans who have never walked in a commercial bank feel comfortable walking into the National Bank and that is something we never anticipated, but it's a really good thing. So everything was by the books. We were working very to make those loans."

"Now the second part of the question as to political forgiveness. Absolutely there are some people who when they walk in the bank - well why you need all of this? This is national bank. And then we have to explain to them that first the Central Bank will come in and do their evaluation of us. But if we don't follow banking practices, the bank be here next year. We are in this for the long haul. So there are some of that feeling out there because of what has happened in the past, but there is no way that we operate under that principle."

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"I think it's still fairly early days yet. But as far as I know there are not the sorts of problems with delinquent loans that would suggest that the bank is in any danger of not being able to operate viably on its own."

Of course, the bank was created to drive down commercial lending rates, and make the banking system more robust. But has it really done that? We challenged the Prime Minister:..

Jules Vasquez
"But overall I could argue that the excess liquidity in the system is still in the hundreds of millions and while indeed lending rates may have ticked down slightly, we are still facing a system that is flush with excess liquidity and it's not a robust banking sector."

Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"I don't know that it's not a robust banking sector. The question of the excess liquidity and why it is that not more loans are being given. Why is it that the fact of all this liquidity hasn't translated into a more robust lending program is something that has all sorts of explanation. While the entrance into the sector of the National Bank of Belize has not solved all the problems. There is no doubt that it has made a difference."

Channel 7

Click photos for more pictures!

The National Bank of Belize Ltd. Belize City Branch was officially opened today.


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