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Finance

President Michel's opening Speech at the 26th Board of Governors Meeting of the PTA Bank

Mon, 26 July 2010

26TH BOARD OF GOVERNORS MEETING OF THE PTA BANK
CONSTANCE EPHELIA RESORT
SEYCHELLES - 23RD JULY, 2010

OPENING SPEECH BY
PRESIDENT JAMES A MICHEL

Honourable Chairman of the Board of Governors,
Honourable Governors of the PTA Bank,
Honourable Ministers,
The Secretary General of COMESA,
Members of the PTA Bank Board of Directors,
President of the PTA Bank,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the people of Seychelles, I have the honour and privilege to welcome you to the 26th meeting of the PTA Bank’s Board of Governors.

This is the first time this meeting is being held here since the Republic of Seychelles became a member of the Bank. We therefore feel privileged to be hosting such an important meeting of the PTA Bank, an institution that is held in high esteem in the region.

I would like to warmly welcome our good friends who have travelled from other countries to participate in this meeting. I cordially invite you to not only attend to the formal business of the Bank, but also to take some time and discover some of the attractions that Seychelles is known for.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
The PTA Bank has been highly rated during the last few years. In particular, the performance over the last one year has been commendable, especially in terms of project and trade financing.  The quality and quantity of projects have improved while the geographical coverage has been expanded.  The profitability of the Bank has also improved substantially, a mark of good stewardship by the Board and management of the Bank.

Looking ahead, there are numerous obstacles not only for the Bank, but also for the entire global economy. There have been many attempts to fix the problems that beset the global economy over the last two years. But, just as one crisis was easing, another reappeared in Greece with the  onset of the debt crisis, threatening other countries in Europe.
It shows that as much as the world has become a global village - with its many attendant benefits - such interconnectivity also has its negative effects, in that a crisis in one part of the world spirals in no time at all to its remotest part.

Globalisation is here to stay and the least we can do is learn to live with it, mitigate its negative side effects and reap the benefits of having one huge market.

One of the ways we can mitigate against the negative effects of globalization is to foster closer ties amongst African countries, by working together to cushion external shocks such as those seen recently.

Regional blocs such as COMESA and SADC come to mind when one talks of integration.  The effect of the global economic crisis would have been much worse for Africa - with its smaller economies - were it not for the trade ties that we have formed through our regional blocs.  That is why I believe that the role being played by the PTA Bank in boosting regional integration is a welcome one and should be encouraged through the continued support of its members.

Whilst Seychelles is a keen proponent and ardent supporter of regional integration, we feel that the interests of the African island states are not adequately taken into account in this process, or, in many cases, neglected. Infrastructural development projects are good and benefit the continent to which we all belong. But what about us, the small African island states? A railway network on the mainland cannot be extended to Mahe! Nor can electricity generated on the continent be brought to us! I urge you to take our specificities - our geographic isolation - into account when considering the development priorities of Africa. We, too, need dams, roads and power-generating facilities. which cannot be connected to and integrated with the continent!

Ladies and gentlemen,
In spite of the challenges I have mentioned, development financiers such as the PTA Bank will continue playing an active role in the development of our economies.  They bridge the financing gap that cannot be filled by commercial banks for various reasons.  That is why I now add my voice to those who have called for continued support for the Bank to ensure its sustainability.

In particular, the Bank’s General Capital Increase should be supported by all the shareholders through remittance of their subscriptions.  We need a strongly capitalized institution if the Bank is to remain the financier of choice in the region.

Indeed, the Bank has left an indelible footprint in the region through its support of business in the countries it operates in.  I am happy to note that Seychelles has received the Bank’s support especially through the trade financing window.  It has made available loans to the Seychelles Petroleum Company for fuel. The Bank was also part of a syndicate that financed Ephelia resort, which is the largest in the western Indian Ocean. We are grateful for your support.

I understand that the Bank has intervened to the tune of over US.6 billion in trade and project financing in its Member States during its operational lifetime.  This is not a small amount of money.  Without a doubt, this intervention has helped businesses in the sub-region increase their capacity, and in the process helped the Bank realize its mandate of boosting economic growth in its Member States.

Supporting entrepreneurs the way the Bank has been doing is a sure way of developing our economies and I am proud to note that many of our entrepreneurs have now come of age.  We, here, have seen the impact of the Bank’s project and trade financing activities and it is my hope that the Bank’s intervention here in Seychelles will be increased substantially.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Republic of Seychelles will be taking over the chairmanship of the Bank for the next financial year. We are not afraid of the prospect; indeed, we welcome the challenges that this poses for us. We are keen to build upon the successes of our immediate predecessor. We believe in the Bank’s mission, and we believe in its future. We are ready to work with you for the achievement of our common objectives. I pledge you my full support to that end.

In conclusion, I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate the Bank for an excellent performance in the last financial year despite the constraining operating environment. 

This could only have been possible with the able guidance of the Governors, the hard work by the Board of Directors and the diligence of the Management.Keep up the spirit in the coming year!

It is now my great pleasure and honour to declare this meeting officially open.

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