Birch M. Conteh, Chairman of the Board at Rokel Commercial Bank has indicated to shareholders that profit after tax fell by 50% from Le5.8billion in 2007 to Le2.9billion in 2008.
He made this revelation at the Bank’s annual general meeting at the Bank of Sierra Leone complex past Tuesday while noting that “the year under review has been full of challenges compounded by the global financial crisis which heightened up into full scale recession in the fourth quarter of the year.”
However, Chairman Conteh noted that “as a result of the lull in the economy arising from the global financial crisis witnessed towards the close of the year, the Bank’s balance sheet reflected a modest growth of only 27%”.
“Our credit risk portfolio also increased slightly by 15.6% from Le45.6 billion to Le52.8 billion,” indicating that , “this is reflective of the absence of viable lending opportunities that should guarantee an appreciable level of return.”
Shareholders were further informed that the number of accounts overall increased from 75,542 in 2007 to 90,410 in 2008 revealing that the Bank remains competitive in terms of the quality of its products and services offered thereby continuing to attract a large number of clients.
On dividend, the Chairman also indicated that “despite the drop in profits the bank is pleased to advise a dividend of Le0.30 cent per share amounting to Le 4,031,078,400.00 which is at the same level as last year,” while observing that the challenges being faced with the emergence of new banks in the operating environment were not unforeseen and the bank has strengthened its position in the circumstance with systems geared at continuously improving our overall performance.
The Mobile Banking system he opined “has had wide acclaim in the areas of operation and is progressing satisfactorily,” while the Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale (EFTPOS) technology faced some teething problems due mainly to connectivity issues which are being addressed and the product is to be re-launched during 2009.”