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Finally after years of being without vital banking services the people of Kerema in Gulf Province can now do banking in the township and not travel to Port Moresby thanks to Bank of South Pacific (BSP).

BSP today officially opened its new Sub Branch that will provide basic banking services such as deposits, withdrawals and account opening. BSP closed its doors in 2008 after its branch in Kerema was subjected to a robbery where a substantial amount was stolen.

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Complementing the BSP Sub – Branch, Agents will be set up in the surrounding Districts and BSP teams will sign up Mobile Banking customers.

BSP Group Chief Executive Officer Robin Fleming said BSP is pleased to return to Kerema. Mr Fleming said the return of BSP to Kerema is the first step in providing banking services for the people.

The massive rural and mobile banking rollout program being undertaken by BSP can only be sustained with support from the leadership of impacted rural communities and their people.

Mr Fleming said while Banking services is an essential service aimed at increasing financial inclusion for rural people, BSP sub-branches and Agencies will only continue to operate in an environment where the safety of bank assets and staff are guaranteed by the community concerned. And he warned that any further criminal act against this BSP facility will see its permanent closure.

“With that said, BSP is proud to return as we have a commitment to all Papua New Guineans to be able to have access to a bank account and the products and services on offer,” he said.

Late last month, BSP also opened a sub-branch in Kikori, so people there do not have to travel to Kerema or Moro to do banking.

Gulf Governor Hon Havila Kavo and Provincial Administrator Marc Avai applauded and welcomed back BSP on behalf of their people.

An elated Governor Kavo said the people of Gulf Province are extremely happy that BSP has decided to return, because the absence banking services has had a negative impact on the province.

“The absence of a bank, has had an impact on the economic development of the province because economic activities declined, businesses had setbacks, our public servants suffered and this had a great impact on the performance of public servants to deliver services to the 200,000 people of Gulf Province,” he said.

“Today marks an important occasion, because banking has been absent for almost six years. We have pursued BSP and other banks, and now it is a huge sigh of relief and we are thankful for BSP to return,” he said.

“Gulf Province will be a major economic hub in the next few years, and it is timely for BSP to return as it will encourage participation by my people in development,” Governor Kavo added, before urging his people to protect the bank: “Take ownership and protect the assets of the bank”.

Administrator Avai expressed similar sentiments and said that on average public servants spent three (3) out of ten (10) days in a fortnight in Port Moresby just to do banking. The costs of travelling into Port Moresby at K100 one way were also unbearable.

“Gulf has had no single banking service over the last few years and this has been a burden. 30 Per cent of my budget is involved in costs of travel, accommodation to Port Moresby to do banking,” he said.

“The people of Gulf Province have lived in pain and suffering for these few years and indeed it is a blessing for BSP to return, for that we are so grateful,” he added.

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