Agribank lauded for engaging unions

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Staff Reporter

Windhoek-The Namibia Emerging Commercial Farmers Union (NECFU) and the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) applauded Agribank for engaging them on key strategic issues.

These were the sentiments expressed during a stakeholder engagement session initiated by Agribank with the farners’ unions. Towards the end of 2016, Agribank approved its new strategic plan to guide the operations of the bank for the next five years.

The bank said it is committed to carrying out its mandate and creating sustainable stakeholder value through regular engagements to foster mutual understanding.

Against this background chief executive officer Sakaria Nghikembua held a stakeholder engagement session with key farmers’ unions this week. The objective of the engagement session was, amongst other things, to discuss the key milestones achieved by the bank in the past seven months, the operating environment, highlights of the bank’s strategy and its focus for the future.

Detailing progress on the arrears collection strategy, which intensified as from February this year, Nghikembua told the unionists that two external debt collecting companies (RedForce and United Africa Group) were appointed to assist the bank with collecting the arrears.

He noted that the response has been positive as many clients have already contacted either the bank’s offices or the contracted debt collecting agents to make arrangements, whilst others have made down-payments on their arrears.

“We already have commitments to pay from customers in excess of N$20 million. This amount increases daily as new repayment agreements are made with customers. We now also have on board the second debt collector and are busy handing over a portion of the arrears book to them before they start interacting with clients. We are confident that we will see good repayment inflows in two to three months”, stated Nghikembua.

He reiterated that Agribank can only be sustainable if money owed to the bank is repaid so it can lend it on further and have a bigger developmental impact, as per its mandate.
“The clients who are ignoring or refusing to cooperate with the duly appointed debt collectors are doing it at their own risk. These agents have been appointed and are acting fully on behalf of the bank.

“We’re fully aware that clients will not necessarily be able to repay all their arrears at once, nor do we expect them to. What we do expect is that suitable arrangements should be made to settle the debts over a reasonable period of time”, the Agribank chief stated.

On their part, both the NECFU and NAU expressed appreciation to Agribank for recognising them as key stakeholders, as is evident through engagements of this nature. The unions further stated that they are clear about the direction the bank is heading and promised to share the information with their members.

Agribank is a state-owned financial institution with the mandate to advance money to persons or financial intermediaries for the promotion of agriculture and agriculture-related activities.

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