The Vice-President, Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal has challenged banks and other financial institutions in the country to broaden their wings by opening branches in the rural areas and extending necessary support to the farmers and unions, including savings, credit and cooperative schemes (SACCOS).
He made the remarks here on Monday during official inauguration of a branch of Arusha-based ABC Bank.
According to the Vice-President, if banks would open more branches in rural areas, farmers will benefit more in terms of access to soft loans.
The loans, he said, would help them improve efficiency in their operations, besides putting their money in a safe environment.
He said the government was determined to modernise and revolutionise the agricultural sector, adding that the decision to set up new regions Simiyu, Geita, Katavi and Njombe, was part of government efforts to take necessary services closer to the people.
“In this respect, financial and banking services are very important. We have to take these services close to wananchi, down to the rural areas,” said Dr Bilal.
He was optimistic that if banks took their services to the four regions, farmers and wananchi would not walk long distances to access banking services, adding that farmers would not face the risks of being robbed of their cash on the way to or from the banks.
According to Bilal, while the international community was struggling to contain impacts of the global economic crisis, it was impressing to note that in Tanzania (as part of the world); the ABC Bank was spreading its wings in the rural areas in order to reach out to the neglected social groups (farmers and poor people).
He, however, advised the bank to provide loans to the small and medium-scale entrepreneurs (SMEs), describing them as potent drivers of the country’s economy.
The Vice-President showered praises on ABC for extending loan packages to the health projects, in collaboration with World Business Capital (WBC) and their plans to give short and long-term loans to the SMEs in the country.
"I also congratulate ABC bank for opening a branch in Arusha, but I challenge you to open more branches in different parts of the country to enable more Tanzanians to easily access banking services,” he said.
For his part, Arusha Regional Commissioner, Magesa Mulongo, said according to the World Bank’s statistics, the region has more than 19 banks, and that the opening of ABC on Monday was a clear testimony that the country’s economy was growing.
“In this context, I appeal to Tanzanians to use the banking services in order to access funds for various development activities,” said Mulongo.