Prime Minister, Hon. Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi, At The Official Opening Of Samoa Commercial Bank’s New Building And Headquarters At Tauese 29 October 2020

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Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sailele Malielegaoi with Samoa Commercial Bank’s General Manager Lemalu Ray Ah Liki and invited guests at the opening of the new $14.3 million tala Main Office in downtown Apia Thursday evening. (Photo- Samoa Observer).

Salutations:

  • Father Eteuati Lapa
  • Agamalu Westerlund (Patron of the Bank)
  • Ministers of Cabinet
  • Heads of Government Departments and Corporations
  • Board of Directors and Shareholders
  • Management and Staff
  • Distinguished Invited Guests

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, Talofa and Good evening!

Today marks another milestone in the continuing development of our economy with the opening of the new building and headquarters of the Samoa Commercial Bank here at Tauese. These occasions are exciting for us as they are evidence that we are progressing as a nation. It has added to the modern look of this side of town where the Old Market and Bus depot used to be.

I had the privilege to officiate the opening of the Samoa Commercial Bank when it first opened its doors to the public on 11 April 2003, as one of the two locally owned commercial banks in the country, operating from the Methodist Building at Matafele.

And they have come a long way in the last 17 years. SCB pride itself as the “People’s Bank” with broader coverage for easy access by the public and a big fan of the financial inclusion initiative. This is evident by the fact that SCB has the most bank branches, 12 in total and 14 ATMs spread around Upolu and Savaii. The bank now employs 141 staff with a customer base of just over 40,000 customers. SCB has not only grown in presence, but also in size from its initial investment of $4.5 million, to an asset base of just over $366 million as at end August 2020.

 

Banking the Economy

  1. The COVID-19 health crisis has posed significant challenges for the Samoan economy and financial system and we expect it will take some time before we see full recovery. The government’s main focus right now remains on managing the economic challenges ahead during this unsettling time.
  2. Since the onset of COVID-19, banks stepped up and supported their customers with various relief packages such as principal and interest payment holidays, accommodation of many customers through the restructuring of borrowing terms and liquidity facilities to name a few.
  3. I applaud the banks for not choosing to ride out the storm until good times roll again. Instead, they stepped up and play a crucial part in supporting Samoa’s economic recovery. Maintaining institutional resilience while continuing to serve customers in an uncertain environment demand expertise, courage and the belief that the people and businesses of Samoa will find a way to come out of these challenges. Ultimately for banks, maintaining the flow of credit to businesses and households will contribute to the stability of the banking system.
  4. The Government has supported the commercial banks’ efforts through stimulus measures in terms of interest rate subsidies to cushion the economic blow to households and businesses. To support the provision of credit to the real economy and keep the financial system stable, the Central Bank made available a number of facilities to provide short term liquidity to the banks when needed.
  5. We all need to collectively demonstrate stability, consistency and resilience in order to actively support our economic recovery. This recovery will require unified and courageous efforts for the collective good of all Samoans.
  6. Looking ahead, low interest rates are likely to be an enduring challenge for the banking sector but a key determinant of the success of our economic recovery will be the willingness of banks to lend to productive, job-rich sectors of the economy.
  7. Now is the time for commercial banks to prudently drawdown on their buffers to support their customers. Shareholders will have to be patient for longer term payoffs, but this forward-thinking, long term approach will ensure that bank customers, banks, shareholders and the financial system is in the best possible position to weather out this unprecedented crisis.

 

Concluding Remarks

Ladies and Gentlemen, the opening of this new building is testament to the commitment of SCB to its customers and to the country, which in turn will fuel positive sentiments in our economy.

We can all agree that SCB has played a valuable role in advancing Samoa’s financial system and also its economic development through its services, innovative products and the latest banking technology.

As Prime Minister, it is very encouraging to see a locally-owned bank developing successfully – but I would be even more proud when I see a Samoan-Owned bank expand their services into other countries, as this will be one of the viable options to safeguarding correspondent bank relationships abroad as well as navigating the challenging requirements of the ever-changing anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing (AML/CFT) standards.

On that note, I warmly congratulate Samoa Commercial Bank for its 17 years of service to Samoa and it is with great pleasure that I officially declare the Samoa Commercial Bank’s new building and headquarters, Open.

Faafetai!