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Bankers Want Statutory Professional Body To Regulate Industry

Housing Finance Bank Managing Director, Michael Mugabi

The banking industry has asked for a statutory recognition of the Uganda Institute of Banking and Financial Services to empower it with the professionalization of the industry and the services.

The industry leaders say this will also make it easy to enforce standards in the banking sector.

Formerly the Uganda Institute of Bankers, it was established in 1990 as the training and certification body for the banking and financial services industry in Uganda under the Companies Act.

Michael Mugabi, the Chairman of the Board of the Institute and Managing Director of Housing Finance Bank asked for the support of the Bank of Uganda for their bid tabled before the relevant authorities and parliament.

He was speaking on Friday at the Annual General Meeting of the institute and the 10th graduation ceremony.

During this time it was not yet incorporated as an autonomous entity between 1967 and 1986. It had the status of a Local Centre of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, London (now London Institute of Banking and Finance).

Today, it offers qualifications in certificates and diplomas in various areas related to banking. It has also helped design graduate and undergraduate degree programs that have been taken on by universities like Makerere.

Goretti Masadde, the institute’s Chief Executive Officer, says that currently, they rely on the professional qualifications their members attain from other professional bodies like the Institute of Certified Public Accountants (ICPAU).

Such statutory professional bodies are established by Acts of Parliament.

She says that currently, all the heads of banking institutions in the country have endorsed the bid for statutory recognition.

The graduation ceremony featured 54 former students, a number which is lower than the previous six graduations, but Masadde says it was a big harvest because they were basically all from Uganda.

Previously, the numbers were bigger because of the students that were coming from Rwanda, before the country established its own institute. She says, therefore, that to still have 54 graduating is a big harvest.

Hannington Wasswa, the Director of Commercial Banking at the Bank of Uganda, who represented the governor and institute patron, welcomes the bid but urged the bankers to support the regional certification program, which is aimed at mutual recognition of qualifications across the EAC borders.

Wasswa urged the institute to focus on programs that respond to the changing needs of the domestic and global economies, including climate change and money laundering.

This comes as the financial sector globally is being pushed to avoid supporting investment projects that are not designed with aspects of environment and social governance. Wasswa urged students to embrace such studies that are in line with these new challenges.

BOU also expressed concern that there are persistent complaints from the public against lenders mishandling them, while others, after failing to pay back loans start hiding.

This, according to Wasswa mainly results from the way the bankers handle their clients, hence the need to redesign their courses especially to do with customer relations.

Masadde agreed that the challenges that the public or customers have with banks most have to do with the approach of the banks and their employees, and hence the need to professionalize banking.

-URN

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