Dec 30, 2009 (LBO) – At a remote fishing village in Sri Lanka’s northern Jaffna peninsular a fisherman tells a group of officials from a state-run commercial bank and the country’s central bank the difficulties faced in a getting loan. “We would like to thank the bank for introducing a new loan scheme, but the requirement for two government officials to counter-sign it had made it inaccessible to most of us,” the middle-aged fisherman says.
“We cannot find that many government officials here to countersign the loans.”
Central Bank governor Nivard Cabraal proposes that three members of the community counter-sign the loan from state-run People’s Bank.
“You have to tell us your problems,” he tells the members of the St. Anthony’s Fisheries Co-operative Society in Gurunagar, Jaffna at a meeting presided over by the parish priest Milfer Vaz.
“Otherwise we cannot solve them. You also have a very strong record of paying back loans.”
S Sunthereswaran, who manages the branch of private listed Hatton National Bank in Jaffna’s Chunnakham area, says the repayment ratio is 95 percent.
With fishing restrictions being gradually relaxed after the end of a three-decade long civil war, fishermen in Sri Lanka’s