BSP Banz Branch Break & Enter
The BSP Financial Group Limited (BSP) Management has expressed concerns on the recent breaking and entering of the BSP Banz Branch in Jiwaka Province.
BSP Management confirmed that in the early hours of Monday, 4th May, 2021, BSP Banz Branch was broken into by criminals, and whilst inside the branch the criminals extensively damaged one of Bank’s ATMs that will now be unavailable to the public for an indefinite period.
The criminals were unable to take money or items of value after the incident triggered the branch’s alarm system, alerting security and police to the site.
BSP Group CEO, Robin Fleming said, “This is not the first time criminals have targeted BSP Banz and other BSP sub branches in the country. The recent incident prior to this was another break and enter at Kerowagi Rural sub branch in nearby Simbu Province last month.”
“This is extremely disappointing seeing that the branch provides essential banking services to a large population in the North Waghi, South Waghi and Jimi districts of Jiwaka Province, and the neighboring Dei District of Western Highlands and Kerowaghi District of Simbu Province” said Fleming.
BSP is the only bank that has any representation in Banz and Minj in Jiwaka province and BSP is also the only Bank that is represented in Kerowagi and Kundiawa in Simbu province.
Despite no other bank being willing to offer services in these provinces, as well as many other provinces in PNG, BSP branches and ATM’s are increasingly frequent targets of criminal activities which not only cost money for BSP to repair the damage caused by criminals, but it also puts the provision of banking services at risk for customers who rely on BSP in their local communities.
BSP has also made significant investments in Jiwaka Province with its Banz Branch, Minj Rural sub branch, several active cash agents, EFTPoS merchants, and a growing loan book indicating increased business activity in the province. BSP also added an additional ATM in Banz recently to further support its customers, following representations by the local community for additional ATM’s.
Damaged ATMs at BSP Banz sub branch
“BSP has experienced ongoing issues of criminal activities in the past, which disrupted its services. The bank will only continue to operate in an environment where the community guarantees safety of bank assets and staff,” he added.
BSP Banz sub branch reopened in 2018, following similar incident that year. The reopening only came about after much negotiation and pleas from the host provincial government to resume the vital service for the rural population, mostly farming communities.
BSP calls on the leaders and the people of Banz and Jiwaka to take ownership of their community and create a conducive business environment in which service providers such as financial institutions are confident enough to operate in. Banz is one of the 21 locations in PNG where BSP is the only bank operating and withdrawal of services would have a detrimental impact on the community.
Mr Fleming said that BSP receives frequent requests for new branches and sub branches and has already committed to a new branch at Eriku, a larger sub branch at Namatanai and has been actively looking for a new site for a branch in Mt Hagen. Whilst these larger projects will continue, criminal activity in the smaller centres may well mean that BSP is not able to maintain all its sub branches or open new sub branches. Notwithstanding the cost associated with 40 branches and 38 sub branches BSP has recently announced further fee reductions to its Kundu Standard account to lower the fee burden for its customers.
In the meantime, police are investigating the incident, and the branch has resumed operations to continue providing essential banking services to the local communities.