Agriculture Development Bank changing name after amendment to Act

By Royson Willie

Vanuatu Agriculture Development Bank would soon be officially known as Vanuatu Rural Development Bank.

This change was made by Parliament yesterday when it passed the Bill for the Vanuatu Agriculture Development Bank (Amendment) Act No. of 2021.

Presenter of the Bill, Minister of Finance and Economic Management, Johnny Koanapo, told Parliament yesterday that the larger proportion of the Bank’s clients were in the service sector.

The Minister said the Bank managed to return a dividend for the government last year with VT5 million vatu.

“That is better than nothing.

“I commend the Board (of the Bank).

“I met with the Board to advise them that this is the policy direction that the government has taken and this requires your support and understanding.

“The initial plan of the government was to use the National Bank of Vanuatu, simply because of its extensive access to our rural areas.

“But when we tried to engage, we found that this would add more stress, more pressure to our National Bank.

“And with recommendation from the regulator, RBV (Reserve Bank of Vanuatu), the government decided and believed that what we have, we can built better and make it more valuable, despite past governments nearly abolishing the Bank (Rural Development Bank),” the Minister said.

He said training incubator programmes will be arranged by the Bank to be linked with cooperatives.

He said clients of the bank will also be helped in such incubator programmes.

Minister Koanapo said the intention of the government is that in the near future, for the government to look into the personal properties securities act, to ensure that any collateral in rural areas can be taken and applied as collateral by the Rural Development Bank.

Minister Koanapo made these comments in relation to comments raised in parliament.

Change to the Act is part of the reform to the Bank as part of the wider financial sector reform, which is currently being carried out by the Government, the explanatory note of the Bill stated.

The Bill looks at strengthening the regulatory framework of the bank as well as provide powers to the Bank’s Board and improve the governance and management of what is soon to be known as the Vanuatu Rural Development Bank.

The Opposition acknowledged the Minister of Finance for bringing such important Bill for amendment, to better serve the needs of the people of Vanuatu but call for sustainability of programmes to be carried out.

According to the Minister of Infrastructure, Jay Ngwele, the capital injection by the government into the bank is around VT1.1 billion.