StanChart denies externalisation claims
By John Kachembere
HARARE – Standard Chartered Bank Zimbabwe has denied externalisation claims laid by its former workers saying the financial institution was committed to reviving the country’s ailing economy by sourcing cheap external loans.
This comes as the bank’s former workers last week petitioned the British Embassy in Harare to act on the Standard Chartered Plc Zimbabwean unit’s alleged externalisation of funds resulting in massive retrenchments.
But the group’s corporate affairs head, Lillian Hapanyengwi, told businessdaily that the bank has taken the conscious decision to continue to maintain its long-standing commitment to doing business in Zimbabwe.
“We remain committed to the long-term interests of our staff and clients in Zimbabwe, and to continuing to facilitate the development and growth of the economy,” she said.
Hapanyengwi noted that StanChart, as a group, aims to be lean and financially-strong, building momentum towards a better balanced business with growth in higher-returning retail and wealth segments complementing a returns-focused corporate and institutional banking which leverages its unique footprint and network.
“Regrettably, the realignment of our strategy has meant some staff losses in markets across our business in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. As always, we retain the strictest level of compliance with local regulations and endeavour to reallocate roles as far as possible to minimise any negative impact,” she added.
Last week, the Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union (Zibawu) organised a demonstration against Stanchart accusing the bank of “centralising” its operations in Kenya and India, a move which they said was prejudicing the local economy.
“We would not mind having a brotherly-relationship with our African brothers in Kenya or our counterparts in India but what we do not accept is that their economies prospered at our expense,” said Zibawu president Farai Katsande
However, Hapanyengwi said the bank’s international strategy to outsource processing to various centres has been in place for many years, supporting the StanChart markets across Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
“Hubbing select operations enables Standard Chartered, and many other multi-national companies, to streamline internal business processes and efficiencies, and most importantly, deliver an enhanced and consistent level of service to our retail, commercial and institutional clients,” she said.
Economic experts say with the fast deteriorating economic conditions in Zimbabwe — where gross domestic product is expected to grow by at most one percent due to an acute drought and low aggregate demand — it was only prudent for companies to streamline operations.
With the global economic outlook not expected to improve much this year due to falling international metal prices, several multinational companies such as Yahoo, General Electric, Anglo American and Samsung are also retrenching. Daily News