Permanent site preferred

Longhouses in rural areas in Sarawak may soon have access to mobile banking services. — Filepic

SIBU: Bakun Resettlement Scheme residents in Sungai Asap want a permanent bank instead of the proposed mobile bank services for rural areas in the state.

Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said on Dec 16 that Bank Negara Malaysia was working with the Sarawak government and several financial institutions --- Agrobank, Bank Rakyat, Bank Simpanan Nasional and RHB Bank --- to launch the mobile bank services at the end of January next year in rural areas of the state.

The service, he said, would also be equipped with automated teller machines (ATM).

A resident of Uma Baha longhouse, Umie Liau, said a permanent bank service would be much better than a mobile one.

“They can provide a mobile bank service while looking for a site for a permanent one at most longhouses.

“If it is not feasible, then choose a strategic longhouse for the service where residents from other longhouses can come to enjoy the service, ” she suggested.

Umie, who is also the chairperson of Kenyah Uma Baha Women’s Association Sibu, said there was a plan previously to set up a permanent banking service in her area but nothing had come of it.

“As for the mobile bank, we hope there will be a wide range of services available such as transfer of money and bill payment, and not just to withdraw money.”

She highlighted that presently the residents of 15 longhouses in her area needed to spend between two and three hours travelling to Belaga for banking services.

She said the government should also collaborate with businesses to set up a mobile supermarket in the Sungai Asap area.

“There is no point being able to withdraw money from the proposed mobile bank service when we have to go to Belaga to buy daily necessities.

“A two-way trip to Belaga cost RM30, and all the things here are already expensive, ” she added.

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