… as Republic Bank opens .5B Triumph BranchIn order to increase access to banking services, Guyana must develop systems adapted to its geographical composition which can, in turn, reduce income inequality. This was the view put forward by President David Granger who noted that local deficiencies still exist with regard to accessing financial services in Hinterland locations.The President and First Lady on a tour of the new facilities at the Republic Bank, Triumph branchThe Head of State made these comments on Sunday afternoon, at the launch of Republic Bank’s newest branch at Triumph, East Coast Demerara (ECD). It was disclosed that the facility cost some $1.5 billion.The President pointed out that greater access to financial services will contribute to enhanced economic growth.“The opening of bank branches brings banking services closer to the people [who] will feel more comfortable taking their financial transactions closer to where they live and work,” the Head of State noted.The latest Republic Bank facility at Triumph, ECDPresident Granger told the gathering that the new establishment is not a local achievement only, but one which will benefit the entire Caribbean community, noting the “strong presence” of Republic Bank in the Region. President Granger however cautioned that more efforts in the banking sector needs to be employed to reduce income inequality, especially in the interior locations.“We have established three Capital towns, [but] Mabaruma still has no bank,” the President told the gathering.He highlighted that at present, many residents have to make costly overnight trips to access bank services. The Head of State emphasised that it is incumbent on the banking sector to find innovative means and mechanisms to expand services to Hinterland communities.“Lack of access to banking services in un-served areas presents a serious constraint to income generation activities,” the President noted.He further explained that because of the remoteness of some communities, mobile banking services would be a viable alternative.“The expansion and use of mobile banking in Guyana is another potential approach to providing basic financial services to Hinterland and riverine areas. Mobile banking [can] provide services without having to invest in brick and mortar,” Granger told the gathering.Meanwhile, Managing Director of Republic Bank Guyana, Richard Sammy explained that the 1.1 acres land was acquired in 2011 following a Board of Directors decision to move forward with the project.“Our decision to expand the Bank’s footprint stemmed from our increasing awareness of the demand for our service by the East Coast [Demerara] community. This expansion is also in keeping with our strategic plan to serve the various communities throughout Guyana,” Sammy stressed.In keeping with Guyana’s “green” initiative, the Managing Director disclosed that the ECD facility includes Lutron ‘Quantum’ Lighting and variable refrigeration flow air condition (AC) systems.Meanwhile, Board Chairman Nigel Baptiste told the gathering that the new facility will see 32 staff being stationed there under the guide of Officer in Charge, Bibi Shaliza Seepersaud. Highlighting several achievements in various branch establishments, the Board Chairman revealed that the bank is examining expanding its Rose Hall operations by constructing a new facility at the location.The bank opened for business on December 19 last, after construction was completed November 17, 2016, following its August 3, 2015 commencement. It was disclosed that, in terms of size, the new facility is second only to Republic Bank’s Water Street branch.