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Republic support


GERALYN EDWARD Business Editor

Republic support

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REPUBLIC BANK LIMITED’S managing director and chief executive officer Ian De Souza says the institution is prepared to stay the course with Barbados as the island battles through one of its most difficult economic periods.
De Souza, who at the beginning of the year took over management of the bank from Derwin Howell, told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY in a recent interview that Republic was fully cognizant of the difficulties facing individual Barbadians and businesses.
“We view the current situation in the world and the respective markets . . . as the new economy. This is it; this is what we have to learn to exist in and do business in for the foreseeable future,” the senior banker explained.
De Souza conceded that the economic downturn that has gone on for five consecutive years made it “very difficult to forecast properly, given the difficulties that we have”.
According to the banker, who is also a member of the Republic Bank’s executive team managing the entire group’s operations throughout the Caribbean, said the situation particularly in Europe remained fluid.
“One thing we know for sure is that the heady days of 2005, 2006, 2007 – those days are not going to come back for a very long time,” he contended.
“What we also know is that the world operates in economic cycles and at some point in time, the world is going to get repaired – given all the measures that are being taken by the European Union and the United States and major economies. Things are going to improve.
“The main product of this country is tourism and people don’t have a desire or need for vacations like before, so that once the major economies get back into growth mode and people are more confident about the future they are going to go back into using disposable or surplus income for vacations.
“We feel strongly that given the quality of the product that we have in Barbados . . . . I believe Barbados is going to be one of the first to rebound,” the banker assessed.
Given the current circumstances, however, De Souza said the bank would be judicious in its lending practices.
He added: “It is not easy to be advancing loans in a market where you have concerns about job and income stability.
“You just have to use your best judgment to look at the customers, where they work and ascertain what is likely to pertain for them in the future. Similarly with businesses, you have to continue to support the businesses – look at those that have a strong chance of staying afloat given the type of product and services that they are offering. There are some businesses that definitely need help in terms of patience on our end.”

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