INVESTRUST Bank Plc says Zambia’s positive economic strides have boosted business confidence in the country.
Bank company secretary Cuthbert Tembo says the economy continued to record positive balance of trade, projected positive gross domestic product (GDP) growth and relative stability in inflation rate.
“These factors still instill confidence in the local economy which it is hoped would grow actively in the second half of 2013 and beyond. The various regulation and statutory changes effected [at the] end [of] 2012 and beginning of 2013 did impact [on our] business volumes and margins in the first half of 2013,” the bank’s interim results for six months ended June 30.
Mr Tembo, however, said the future business prospects are largely dependent on the ultimate economic performance.
“The major economic fundamentals indicate a relatively strong local economy although there have been uncertainty surrounding the exchange rate stability during the first half of 2013,” he said.
He said this is on the back of fluctuating and the drop in the price of copper on the world market, and limited local supply of foreign currency.
The bank hopes that the situation will improve going forward as clarity on new business practices sets in the following guidance provided on the statutes recently issued on the market.
He said the bank also maintained adequate capital during the period under review while shareholder equity increased by 21 percent on account of retained earnings for 2012 and operating profit recorded in the first half of 2013.
“The bank is on course with the capital raise exercise necessitated by the revision in primary capital and hopes to meet the new limit with the revised timelines prescribed by the Bank of Zambia,” he said.
During the period under review, the bank opened four new branches in Lusaka, Choma, Kabwe and Ndola, increasing the total branch footprints to 22.
Mr Tembo said there are also a number of other new branches earmarked for opening before the end of 2013.
“The product portfolio has been enhanced to include all commercial banking products addressing the needs of all clientele type. The retail, corporate and investment banking units have been strengthened to better serve our individuals, small medium-scale entrepreneurs [and] corporate clients through a dedicated relationship management system and prompt customer service mechanism,” he said.