FNB open to government partnership
In a recent interview, FNB Namibia Holdings CEO Ian Leyenaar told the Economist that one of the group’s key pillars is forging key strategic partnerships with the Government, parastatals and State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs).
Leyenaar said the group, with interests in banking services, short term insurance as well as investment banking and advisory services, would like to develop strategic public private partnerships with the government in areas of financial management and in deal structuring.
Leyenaar said: “I think we can help government a lot. We would seize the opportunity to be able to become more involved, to help. We know at times there are challenges within some of these particular entities [parastatals and SOEs] with financial management and structuring deals. Rather than the old way of doing things – raising money from the tax payer and putting it in a budget fund – there are other ways of doing that. We can structure deals and provide support, and I think we would love to try and help.”
Leyenaar said investment in mining, particularly uranium, and the energy sector offers greater potential for growth.
“If you look at the demand on Namibia for the future, uranium offers huge opportunities. Also the ability to generate excess power, you have got Kudu coming on stream, you have got solar, you have got wind and other projects.
“You have got the ability for Walvis to be a hub port to support the entry into Africa as an alternative to the current areas that have been used. Now, all that requires development and if you are going to grow the country then you have to get your infrastructure right because if you don’t, you are going to create bottlenecks and frustrations for foreign investment.”
The FNB CEO said the 7% annual growth needed to achieve Vision 2030 is easily achievable. He, however, said for this to happen, it is important for government departments to work in unison rather than in isolation and to get some of the basics right.
“We need to get some of the basics right – financial discipline, making sure the money is spent where it really needs to be spent and being accountable for that. We also need to eradicate all these bad evils of corruption and wastage, and I think as the financial industry, and FNB in particular,we would love to be part of this success.”
He said he fully supports the government’s financial inclusion initiative although there are some challenges in terms of getting to the four corners of the country because of a lack of infrastructure. He said by opening branches across the country, FNB Namibia is playing its part to ensure that most people have access to financial products.
“Recently we opened a new branch in Arandis and we have got others in the pipeline so we are still going to take banking to the people, but I must tell you that bricks and mortar is costly and it is a challenge.”
He said the recent decision by the Bank of Namibia to effect zero rate cash deposit fees on the first N$2000 deposited per month on all savings and investment accounts held by individuals as well as the zero-rated cash deposit fee for the first N$10,000 deposited per month for businesses with an annual turnover of N$1 million or less, is likely to impact on the ability of bank’s to further open new branches in the remote areas were it was not always viable to do business.
Leyenaar said true to the bank’s mantra of how can we help you, the bank sees itself as partner to all its stakeholders rather than seeing itself as the best bank in the country. “So in other words, we partner with you; you see value, we see value.”