HISTORY OF THE NATIONAL PEOPLE’S COOPERATIVE BANK
First PC Bank Opened
What is now the National Peoples Co-operative Bank of Jamaica Limited first began when on the 19th of April 1905 the first loan society (as it was then called) was launched in Christiana, Manchester by Mr. Jock Palache, a French Canadian who worked in the Island as an Agricultural Extension Officer. Following a successful start another P.C Bank was set up in Mile Gully on June 21, 1905. Both were registered under the Industrial and Provident Society Law #33 of 1902.
The initial objective of the PC Bank was to carry on the business of the Banker, Bill Discounter and a Dealer in Stocks, Shares, Bonds Debentures, Mortgages, and other Securities and to make advances for Cooperative and agricultural purposes.
Since the start of operations, the PC Banks were mainly engaged in the provision of financing for agricultural purposes.
1905 – 1930
PC Banks Assist Farmers with Land purchase
By 1920 the Banks began operating Land Settlements and assist small farmers to purchase their own land. Hon. A.A Barclay of Western St. Mary was an outstanding individual, acquiring four sizable properties.
Mr. W. S Robinson was the first Land Settlement Officer who later became Chairman of the Western St. Mary (Gayle) Bank. Over 59,000 loans were made to members enabling to acquire various properties throughout the island.
By 1930, 29 registered loan societies began borrowing from the Loan Societies Board, mainly for on lending to farmers whose buildings or farms sustained repeated damage by the hurricane of that period.
Meteoric Growth in PC Banks
By 1950, the number of PC Banks rose to 175 of which 55 were formed during the 1940’s influenced by World War II and the hurricane of August 1944. With World War II and Jamaica now required to be less dependent on imported food, a food production campaign was initiated with over 250,000 being made available mainly to farmer whose properties were damaged.
Attempts were also made during the period to form an association of banks was also formed under the Chairmanship of Mr. E. C Welds of the Claremont Bank.
Greater Flexibility in Farm Loans
During this period, an additional six banks were formed. An important milestone was reached in 1955 when the Facilities for Title Law was passed to enable persons who owned land for a period of over seven (7) years with the proper documentation, to qualify for farm loans through the PC Bank. The first Certificate was presented to the Chief Minister Honourable N. W. Manley at a ceremony at the St. Dorothy Bank on July 19, 1956. Thereafter in 1960, the Agricultural Credit Board Law #70 of 1960 came into being to provide more flexibility to the machinery for agricultural loans and improve the supervision of the Banks.
By the time, the banks had paid up share Capital of Four Hundred and Seventy One Thousand Pounds with a membership of One Hundred and Forty Thousand (140,000) individuals. The Farmers Saving Scheme was also implemented.
IPCBN Programme Launched to Assist Ailing PC Banks
In 1982, the Government decided to reorganize the agricultural loan process with the establishment of the Agricultural Credit Bank. As a result, efforts were made to ensure the viability and efficiency of the PC Banks. The pool of funds was expanded and by 1994, the Bank had membership of 84,000, savings of $2 million and a loan portfolio of $200 million.
With the PC Banks still not operating optimally, the Integrated People’s Cooperative Bank Network Programme (IPCBN) was launched in 1995 with joint funding from the Government of Jamaica, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). The aim of IPCBN was to transform the banks into a viable autonomous network of community banks within the rural areas, providing loans to small rural enterprises.
A Consultative Committee comprising the PC Bank Chairmen was also formed under the chairmanship of Senator Norman Grant from St. Andrew PC Bank. The Agricultural Credit Bank (Now the Development Bank of Jamaica) had the major task of implementing the IPCBN programme, which saw the merger of the 116 PC Banks in operation into 18 individual banks. The programme resulted in the renovation and construction of buildings, rationalization of branches; implementation of new accounting systems; computerization of the banking operations; improved reporting procedures; the upgrading of professional staff and the introduction of new services.
PC Banks Merged into one Entity
Despite many challenges and changes in the wider economic environment, especially within the farming sector, the newly constituted PC Banks have made significant progress. By 2003, they had a membership of 170,000, a savings portfolio of $519 million and a loan portfolio of $814 million.
The Banks also formed an alliance with Grace Kennedy Remittance Services and were now a major facilitator of the increasingly important money transfer business.
A new era began for the movement in 2003, when as a direct response to a dynamic environment; the decision was taken to merge the banks into one entity, the National People’s Co-operative Bank of Jamaica.
2003 to Present
Recommitted to Serve
The growth of the bank’s business continued and the range of services expanded by an agreement between itself and CUNA Mutual Insurance Society in 2004. NPCB started marketing the Family Indemnity Plan Insurance. This plan allows members to pay one monthly premium to cover up to six family members with a death benefit attached. Our savings portfolio experienced growth of over twenty-five percent for each year and now stands at $830M.
The PC Bank still see itself as the best institution to provide a full range of banking services to rural people and most suited to raise the standard of living of small and medium scale farmers and entrepreneurs.
The Leadership of the Bank has recommitted itself to achieve its potential to offer excellent service to improve the quality of life of its members and the wider Jamaican community.