By Alexis R. Milan
The National Bank Belize City branch was officially inaugurated at an opening ceremony Thursday morning at its new location at 53 Regent Street.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow said he was extremely happy to announce the opening of the new branch of the “people’s bank”, as he described it. He said that since the opening of the first bank in Belmopan two years ago, the government has seen the need for the new branch to service customers in Belize City, the northern districts and the cayes. He added that GOB has plans to open other branches in the future as well.
Barrow said the success of the National Bank and the millions of dollars worth of loans approved is vindication for his administration against nay-sayers who criticized the government for opening the National Bank in the first place. He added that the Bank will continue to service the Belizean public at lower rates than commercial banks.
The Reporter broke the story of the sale of the property in January and after the ceremony, Barrow also confirmed that GOB purchased the property for the National Bank for a little more than three million dollars from Pedmar Investment, owned by Phillip Espat, the brother of Barrow’s economic advisor, Mark Espat.
Barrow added that the bank is free from government or ministerial interference or influence and that all loans are given to customers who qualify.
The National Bank of Belize was established in April 2013, using $20 million of PetroCaribe funds as start-up capital. The bank’s mission is to provide low-interest credit to teachers, public officers and to the poor.