71st anniversary : Nepal Bank on scorching growth path

Kathmandu, November 15:

Nepal Bank Ltd (NBL) has left its worst days behind and is now moving ahead aggressively, said Dr Binod Atreya, co-coordinator of the management team of the first bank in the country.

Three months ago, when the foreign management team walked out, the central bank sent a team headed by Dr Atreya. The unaudited report for the first qu-arter shows that Nepali ma-nagement team is capable in handling NBL and its financial health is improving.

Established in 1937, NBL has — in its seventy years of operations — seen many ups and downs and learnt lessons from the past mistakes. After being declared a sick institution due to chr-onic bad loans and continuous political interference, government tho-ught of reforming it and services of The Bank of Scotland (Ireland) Ltd, ICC Consulting was hired. However, the foreign management remained always controversial.

“The situation is different now and unions are cooperative,” Atreya said adding that cordial relation between the management and unions is very important in the progress of the bank. “Downsizing staff, computerising 44 branches, preparing operational and HR manual were some of the positive outcomes of reforms,” Dr Atreya said. Reform has also helped modernise the ailing bank and made it more professional and reduced Non-performing Assets from 59 per cent.

In the recent days, the pioneer financial institution has to compete with new private banks that are competitive, aggressive and technologically advanced.

“We are also upgrading our services,” he said adding that NBL offers all the products that the private banks offer and that also in competitive rates. It offers many kinds of loans and has ABBS. “NBL is planning to add ATMs and e-banking soon,” he added.

However, the operating cost of the bank is — 62 per cent in interest income — the highest among all the commercial banks. “We are again bringing VRS to reduce it,” he said adding that injecting fresh blood is also necessary for the soundh health of the oldest bank.

At present, the bank is serving with its 97 branches that were once more than 200. “It is reinstating its five branches — that were displaced due to lack of security — soon,” Atreya added.

The bank, which has Rs 38.71 billion deposit, is trying to win back its customers. “NBL is a business partner,” Atreya claimed thanking depositors, borrowers, employees and stockholders of the bank for their continued support throughout its seventy years of service. He also promised to provide competitive and customer-oriented banking services through competent and professional staff in efficient way.