AS the government puts a lot of weight in revolutionizing agriculture and raising the livelihoods of Tanzanians and the economy, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa was optimistic that financial institutions in the country will lower interest rates and other charges on loans they issue for economic growth.
In his address after a short ceremony to launch a new National Bank of Commerce (NBC) branch in Bariadi, Simiyu region over the weekend, Mr Majaliwa noted that reduced interest rates and other deductions banks charge would be a solution to mobilizing a large number of the citizens fearing taking loans as capital for their businesses.
"The good news is that we have sat and discussed with the financial institutions including NBC Bank hosting this occasion and they are ready to work on the matter as much as possible... so let's hope for the best. Today NBC have come here with a solution to your financial challenges that include access to business loans, so make proper use of them as they are here to help," he pointed out.
He further appealed to the bank as well as others to fast-track lowing interest charges of the loans, adding that the approach would open up more opportunities for agricultural growth that employs many youths in the countryside in the wake of the government's vision that though crops' cultivations, Tanzania can feed the continent.
He added: "Economic growth in the region especially in Simiyu requires related businesses including agriculture and livestock sectors are given priority. Thanks to the management of NBC as you have done a very good job of bringing such services to Simiyu region. For a long time, the region has been leading in the production of cotton in the country and its residents are also getting involved in other businesses like animal husbandry with your assistances.
"However, the challenge has been where to get more capital to inject in their businesses. I am happy to hear that you have come here as a solution to their challenges."
Elaborating, the Premier noted that the bank pitching tents in the region was at the right time when the government was promoting the agricultural sector, especially in the regions like Simiyu, where the country's food production are expected to come from.
"The region's economic growth must first deal with the challenges that hinder the growth and operation of businesses and this is where the financial institutions are required to show support," said Mr Majaliwa.
He said despite many infrastructures improved in the region including roads' maintenance to connect the region with others in the Lake Zone to further stimulate investments, the grassroots farmers require more capital in terms of loans to speed up their activities.
Citing the region's Bus Terminal built at 7bn/- though not fully utilized, he noted that its full use will also depend on the farmers' increasing their activities to transport their agricultural produce to other areas.
Earlier speaking on the new branch, NBC Bank Managing Director Mr Theobald Sabi said the move was aimed at expanding the bank's scope of providing its services to all regions to reach more Tanzanians as part of supporting the government's ambition to financial inclusion.
"Simiyu region is a very important link in the economy of the Lake Zone region and the whole nation as a whole. Thus, the presence of reliable banking services through this new branch located here in Bariadi, will greatly help in stimulating the pace of economic growth by opening new financial opportunities. Previously, our customers used to access our services through our agency network where here in Simiyu we have more than 30 agents." he said
Mr Sabi further noted that the bank is ready to serve all kinds of customers including government institutions, government employees, businessmen and students.
"At the same time, this branch also collects government's revenues through the Government Electronic Payment Gateway (GePG) and taxes on behalf of the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA). Therefore, I kindly appeal the citizens of Simiyu region and neighboring areas to make good use of this branch in order to bring about economic development," he pointed out.
Being the third largest bank in the country with assets worth 1.52tr/- and deposits of .96tr/- and about 977 employees, NBC bank boasts a large service network that includes 48 branches, 180 ATM Machines, more than 9000 agencies, let alone investing in mobile phones "NBC Kiganjani" and Internet services.
The occasion was attended by various stakeholders including senior officials from the government and the ruling party as well as the bank's customers.