One of Sierra Leone's industrious son of the soil founder of Union Trust Bank (UTB) James Sanpha Koroma has again made another landmark achievement by bringing the banking services to the door steep of the people of Sierra Leone. President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma during official opening of the bank called on the people of Sierra Leone to recognize the efforts of those who are promoting the private sector as an engine of socio-economic growth. He paid special tribute to the chief executive officer and founder of Union Trust Bank (UTB) James Sanpha Koroma for his initiative, resilience and hard work in establishing the UTB 20 years ago, and acknowledged his consistency in the banking industry since then. He made this declaration during the opening ceremony of the newly constructed UTB branch and training center in Mile 91, Yoni chiefdom, Tonkolili district on Friday 20 February, 2015.
"He has shown lots of initiatives in advancing the banking industry in Sierra Leone, and mind you the UTB is not government owned, although indigenous. Personally, I have participated in the opening of many branches of UTB and I think this is a big achievement that we should all be proud of as Sierra Leoneans," the president said.
According to President Koroma, most Sierra Leoneans want to do business and realize profit within the shortest possible time. "I want to commend the UTB, board, management and staff for this great work," he stressed. He also noted that he hoped the UTB example is emulated by other Sierra Leoneans in the private sector while expressing optimism that such a feat is not impossible, although much needs to be done to improve the sector.
He explained that the Audit Report on the management of Ebola funds has raised serious concerns in the public domain, and reaffirmed government's commitment to ensure that whoever is involved in the embezzlement of Ebola funds will face the full penalty of the law. President Koroma also called for international accountability and transparency in the use of funds meant for the fight against Ebola. He encouraged the Yoni community to make meaningful use of the bank and help to develop the country.
Chairman of the occasion Minister of Labour and Social Security Hon. Martin Theambo in his opening remarks said that the banking industry has played its professional role in the country and customers of UTB can now explore the facility in Mile 91 and the entire Yoni chiefdom. He said the growth of new businesses and internship exercises will allow skills development in not just Mile 91, but also in Yoni and neighbouring communities.
In his welcome statement, host paramount Chief Fullah Manssa Gbereh II profusely thanked President Koroma for resolving their differences in Yoni chiefdom, narrating that he was once an employee of the UTB before he was crowned as paramount chief.
He commended President Koroma for his astute leadership in his handling of the Ebola response and other development programmes in the district, noting that they had conducted a study of their communities for the installation of electricity in Yoni, from the Yele mini hydroelectric power supply.
The Acting chairman board of directors UTB Haja Ajaratu Mahdi, recalled that the bank was established in 1995 during the civil war and that they had not travelled this journey alone as a corporate entity. She noted that this year marks the 20th anniversary of the bank's operations and disclosed that UTB is the only bank with branches everywhere in the country.
The Governor Bank of Sierra Leone Momodu Kargbo said government is working relentlessly to recapitalize the Sierra Leone Commercial Bank and Rokel Commercial Bank, noting that Sierra Leone is a country where people look forward to government for everything.
He said that there are currently 19 commercial banks in the country of which UTB has 12, pointing out that one of the main weaknesses of the country's financial institutions is the lack of loan services, adding that monies borrowed from banks are loans and should be refunded, as the banks are encountering difficulties in the repayment of their monies. He assured that the Bank of Sierra Leone has the responsibility to protect the commercial banks.