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Friday, August 18 2017 @ 06:08 PM AST

CIBC invests US$2m in Chaguanas

The Barbados-based subsidiary of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) invested US$2 million outfitting its new and only second branch in Trinidad, CIBC FirstCaribbean Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Gary Brown told reporters Wednesday evening (May 24) at the Chaguanas branch opening.

"We're leasing the building but we spent about US$2 million fitting out the facilities that you see here," he told reporters following a tour of the new branch.

Asked if the opening of the new branch will mean new employment for Chaguanas, he said: "Yes, it will eventually, over time. We will ultimately split our organisation between our current location on Long Circular Road (Maraval, Port of Spain) and this, and as you can see from the way the layout is, these are offices that people can go back and forth between, so our staff will actually split time between the two. We intend to grow our business in Trinidad, and that obviously means more employment, more people."

"It's the location relative to where we are now. It's our first major expansion in Trinidad, and we wanted to make sure that it was in a growing area to meet the needs that we think we can supply services for," he said in response to the question of why Chaguanas was chosen.

He added: "We do believe. There are a lot of very good banks operating in Trinidad, so we're obviously a relatively small bank in the market but we hope to become an important part of the economic situation here in Trinidad, going forward."

BANKS SEEING GOOD GROWTH

Asked if he was concerned about opening a new branch in the midst of a deepening recession, Brown said: "No, in fact, as I travel around the Caribbean - and we're in 17 countries - we're actually seeing good growth across a lot of the region. Our own growth has been above average, as it relates to our set of competitors. Trinidad itself - you see it probably because you live here - is doing relatively well, compared to a lot of parts of the Caribbean, but we consider this a good investment, a good time to be investing."

Questioned if San Fernando is the next city to see a CIBC FirstCaribbean branch, Brown said: "We've had discussions about it. You'll see us first there with automated banking machines (ABMs) in the south side. I've been to San Fernando three of the four times that I've been to Trinidad, so we have good customers down there, and we see that as a very good market. So it would be the most logical place to put another branch, but we actually don't have plans to do that at the moment. We'd actually like to move our head office here in Trinidad to another location. That would be the next thing you would see us do."

A venue around the Queen's Park Savannah is being considered. Brown said: "We'd like to get a little closer to where we see more people, with access to our facilities. Long Circular is a good location but it's not the best location."

GOPEE-SCOON PROMISES REFORM

Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon cut the ribbon at the branch opening ceremony. In her address, she said: "Of the main reforms led by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, is the likely implementation of a Secured Transaction and Collateral Registry System, which will allow businesses to use their moveable property (intellectual property, accounts receivables, machinery and equipment) as collateral." She said limited access to financing is a constraint that stifles business growth and inhibits economic development. "The Ministry is developing a policy to enhance the secured transactions regime and has already conducted a two-phased diagnostic mission with several stakeholders, including the Bankersí Association of Trinidad and Tobago," she said, adding that countries in the region and across the globe have implemented this system resulting in significant growth of their economy.

Former First Citizens bank CEO Larry Nath, who also attended the branch opening, said: "I think the concept has merit. It seeks to find a workable approach to satisfy the lending criteria of the financial institutions by formalizing and monetizing the floating and intangible assets of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). This in turn can improve access to capital. All stakeholders should collaborate to develop and refine."

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