Profit maximization should not be the only objective of state banks. They should strive to be catalysts in national development while maintaining profitability, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said. He was speaking at a ceremony to hand over letters of appointment to nearly 1,800 trainee staff assistants, recruited to the Bank of Ceylon (BOC).
The event was held at Temple Trees on Tuesday. President Rajapaksa told the new entrants and staff of the BOC to strive and foster a more rewarding relationship with customers.
He told them to find, acquire and retain customers in an efficient manner and ensure their satisfaction to the optimum. The President said as a state bank, the BOC had an added responsibility towards its customers, to protect and guide them on the correct path. Noting there were many instances of people getting into difficulties after obtaining small loans for businesses, agriculture and other livelihood purposes, President Rajapaksa said banks should guide and have a closer rapport with customers to overcome such difficulties.
He reminded the gathering that there was a time when efforts were made to privatize state banks which had been prevented.
“Today, these banks render a yeoman service to the country’s progress and its people,” he said. The President said even during crisis such as the global economic recession, the government was able to protect and nurture state banks. President Rajapaksa who also spoke in Tamil, told the new recruits to continue acquiring knowledge and skills to further expand their career. BOC chairman Razik Zarook PC said having completed more than seven decades of existence, the bank now is firmly entrenched as Sri Lanka’s premier financial services organization offering a broad range of services.
The chairman said the BOC has close to 10 million customers (nearly half the population) and assets worth of over Rs 1 trillion.
He said since 2005, the BOC staff and branches have almost doubled and added that this was due to rapid development of the country under the President’s leadership.
He said BOC has 602 branches and 462 ATM machines islandwide. Speaking on BOC’s contribution to develop the war ravaged North and East, he said the bank invested Rs 40 billion and Rs 70.8 billion in the two provinces since 2009.
International Monetary Cooperation Senior Minister and Finance and Planning Deputy Minister Dr Sarath Amunugama also addressed the gathering. BOC directors, senior staff and parents of the new appointees attended the event.