Dodoma — A FINANCIAL programme launched by Dutch Queen Maxima early this week aims at increasing the number of people accessing banking services from the current 17.9 to 50 per cent by 2015.
Deputy Minister for Finance, Saada Mkuya Salum told Parliament on Friday that under this programme commercial banks are encouraged to extend their services to rural areas.
"It is true we currently have 52 banks but many of them operate in urban centres only. Bank of Tanzania (BoT) has issued directives to commercial banks to introduce agency banking so as to extend their services to rural areas," Ms Salum said.
Responding to questions asked by Special Seats legislator (CCM), Josephine Genzabuke who had wanted to know how Treasury is supporting rural people's efforts to start savings and credit cooperative societies and village community banks, Salum said government recognises such efforts and support them.
She said government is in the process of boosting the capital of Tanzania Postal Bank and Twiga Bankcorp which are wholly owned public banks, by listing them on the stock market and through a cash injection of 7bn/-.
"The process of having Tanzania Postal Bank raise capital through listing on the stock market was possible - by the legislation that established the bank," noted Salum who further pointed out that among efforts to ensure that banking services reach rural areas, government will launch the Tanzania Agriculture Development Bank (TADB).
"This bank will target farmers, fishermen and pastoralists with short, medium and long term loans," she said, pointing out that the establishment of the Tanzania Women's Bank (TWB) was geared at allowing more women access banking services. Records show that TWB has issued out loans amounting to 11.6bn/- mainly to women through a programme to formalise property.
"Banks such as NMB are already accepting formalised property as collateral, while our main challenge currently is to convince other commercial banks do the same," the deputy minister said, while responding to supplementary questions raised by Mbozi West legislator (Chadema), David Silinde and Ileje legislator (CCM), Aliko Kibona.
In a separate development, banking services at Dar es Salaam port will beginning January next year operate on a 24 hour basis as government moves to improve efficiency at the port.
Responding to Mfenesini legislator Nassib Suleiman Omar (CCM), who wanted to know why banks open at 9 am and inconvenience business people who come with merchandise and need to pay import duty and port fees.