Indian bank clocks 120 percent growth in Trinidad and Tobago

Port-of-Spain, Feb 24 (IANS) India's Bank of Baroda has recorded a whopping 120 percent growth in credit in Trinidad and Tobago.

The bank also recorded a 75 percent growth in total business in a matter of ten months of the current financial year, Yesh Pal Chhabra, managing director, told IANS.

Chhabra, who took over the reins of the Bank of Baroda operations from Kishore Karat last June, said that its Chaguanas and San Fernando branches were responsible for this rapid growth.

He said that the bank's innovative strategies had made a difference in its operations, and one of them is to restructure its system of loans payment where it gives customers more time to repay loans.

The Bank of Baroda is the first Indian bank here and its customer base represents the multi-cultural and multi-ethnic composition of this country's 1.3 million people, of which 44 percent are of Indian origin whose forefathers came here between 1845 and 1917 to work on the sugar plantations.

'Our marketing style is different. We like to personalise our business with our clients and we are very receptive to their needs,' Chhabra said.

'Our bank can play a role in designing appropriate schemes to improve the environment for lending to small and medium businesses,' he added.

Bank of Baroda now has a customer base of 5,000 clients since it began operations here in 2007.

Chhabra said that Minister of Finance Winston Dookeran and Minister of Trade and Industry Stephen Cadiz were keen to resolve many issues facing the economy.

'The 2010-11 budget was prepared well, focusing on areas of concern to the people. Bank of Baroda has expertise in lending to the agriculture sector, as well as some small business and industry. We are ready to extend our support to the government in all such matters and can provide details of many lending schemes for promoting agricultural activities in Trinidad and Tobago,' Chhabra told IANS.

He suggested that the Trinidad and Tobago government should establish a recovery agency to assist banks with default loans as many banks have experienced an increase of non-performing loans from one percent of their total loan performance to four percent.

'To help satisfy all parties, the government can act as a security mechanism in retrieving default payments while charging a one percent fee for recovery,' the bank official said.

The Bank of Baroda, which has a tagline as India's international bank, has a presence in 26 countries with 3,287 branches and 40,000 employees supported by 37 million customers.

Chhabra said that the bank has plans to open 900 more branches in India, the US, Canada, Suriname and New Zealand.

(Paras Ramoutar can be contacted at paras.r@ians.in)