20 Jul 2004

Commentator scorns Fiji PM's rural bank plea

3:11 pm on 20 July 2004

A business commentator in Fiji says a plea to open more rural banks in the country is likely to fall on deaf ears.

The prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, says commercial banks are shunning rural businesses.

Villagers seldom have banks on their doorsteps and often have to travel up to 1-hundred and 50 kilometres to make use of financial services.

Robert Keith Reid, publisher of the Fiji-based Islands Business magazine, says urban customers are just too profitable for banks such as Westpac and ANZ:

"It's quite obvious that they're only interested in making a lot of money in the main towns, and simply don't want to be burdened by the bother of servicing a lot of small business people in the bush areas."

Mr Keith Reid says it's been several years since the first call for banks to provide some kind of rural service network, possibly with some form of a subsidy.