The Liberia Bankers Association (LBA) has assured the public of the banks’ commitment to the fight against the deadly Ebola virus in the country.
LBA president John B. S. Davies, III gave the assurance on Wednesday, September 10, when he appeared on ELBC Radio morning show. “The banking sector has been very supportive of the fight against Ebola. The sector has provided both financial and logistical support to the government amounting to over US$250,000. Individual banks are also supporting awareness campaigns at our various branches and communities,” Davies said.
The LBA boss noted that banks didn’t budget spending on the Ebola crisis, but individual banks had to readjust their budgets to deal with the challenges brought on as a result of the Ebola outbreak.
Mr. Davies, who is also president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI), also disclosed that banks are still providing full-time services to clients.
“All services are operational at banks even though the Ebola crisis has brought its own unique challenges that we are dealing with daily as an industry and as individual banks,” he said.
According to him, remittances are still flowing, except for the extractive industry which, he said, is largely affected by the Ebola outbreak.
Mr. Davies assured the public that the banking sector, as a critical symbol of hope, is the last place to show fear.
Our business desk confirmed contractors for a number of concession companies in the extractive and agriculture industries have declared force majeure and left the country out of fear of contracting the Ebola virus and this has affected their relationship with banks.
Touching on LBDI’s individual contribution to the fight against Ebola as a bank, the CEO recalled that the Bank had contributed US$10,000 to the government of Liberia’s Ebola Trust Fund (ETF) and made available US$1,500 goodwill support, to Montserrado County District #13 Rep. Saah Joseph to fuel his ambulances that are being used to transport Ebola patients to various treatment centers in Monrovia.
“We also contributed to the US$9,000 that was provided to the Ebola Trust Fund by the LBA as its contribution to fight the virus,” Davies added.
He declared that LBDI is also providing free banking services to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare for all Ebola-related accounts the Ministry has at LBDI. “Apart from this critical intervention, we are providing full-scale financial services to Mano Manufacturing Company to produce bleaches and detergents to combat Ebola in Liberia.
LBDI Support to Mano Manufacturing
Mano Manufacturing Company, the manufacturer of made-in-Liberia chloral, alcohol and other bleaches and other products, such as candles and matches, amongst others, is mostly financed by LBDI.
“This company,” Mr. Davies declared, “is also supplying bleaches and detergent to Guinea and Sierra Leone to fight Ebola.”
The prices of bleach products have more than doubled in Monrovia, propelled by huge demand as most households, business centers, offices and healthcare centers are using them for cleaning up and hand washing purposes, a method the World Health Organization (WHO) says can help to break in transmission of the deadly Ebola virus.
Consumers are meanwhile concerned about the hike in the prices of locally produced bleach products, with some appealing to the company to produce enough to meet with the rising demand on the market.
Banks are still providing loans to certain clients, said Mr. Davies, but he was quick to add that said loans were being disbursed on a case by case basis.
“Banks are still lending, but we take every loan situation on a case by case,” he said, noting that banks are still financing construction and some sectors of the economy that are not badly hit by the Ebola virus outbreak.
He intoned that the government of Liberia’s economic management team (EMT), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank Group and other stakeholders are studying the lending strategy for banks for a possible review.
Davies noted that a review of the lending strategy was critical to enhancing macroeconomic stability and growth.