“It unashamedly only supports Chinese people and Chinese projects,”
By Chipindi Caleb Fundanga
The Bank of China in Zambia is responsible for handling over 70% of business handled by Chinese firms in Zambia whether its facilitation of loans and payments or the management of letter of credits.
What many individuals don’t realize is The Bank of China only truly operates in the interest of Chinese nationals. Zambian nationals with transactions with Chinese firms are permitted to setup accounts with them and even use them as intermediary for transactions with suppliers in China for foreign exchange purposes but that’s as good as it gets even then unforeseen situations arise.
Bank of China has never given a Zambian entrepreneur or corporation a loan facility no matter how profitable the transaction may end up. The bank continues to profit immensely with most of the infrastructure projects handed out by government going to Chinese firms who bank with Bank of China. In a state where it is proven fact that our government over evaluates the bill of quantities on infrastructure projects, it is then disheartening to imagine none of these resources are ever kept in circulation to allow the same citizens who suffer the greater economic cost to benefit.
China as a nation itself was built on the wheels of small and medium enterprises that later developed into corporations, one example of how this is relayed in many Chinese firmsis the bicycle wheel which even appears on the Bank of China logo and many other Chinese financial institutions. Zambians cannot be seen to bully financial institutions that come and invest in the country but as citizens it is our divine right to question the ethics these institutions uphold themselves by. In a global village that we find ourselves in Bank of China is playing the role of the grim reaper, taking what is ours, leaving us in condemnation.
A look at their corporate social responsibility leaves nothing to be admired. With pitiful donations like soccer jerseys and soccer balls, the bank even had the audacity of parading these pictures at their stand at this year’s Agriculture and Commercial Show in Zambia.
What is even more disturbing about the conduct of Bank of China is the manner in which they treat the Zambians who transact with their firm. Zambian entrepreneurs who have dealt with Bank of China for even up to four years transacting bi-weekly to facilitate payments to their suppliers have found themselves being reported to the Financial Investigation Unit, these are individuals who regularly make transactions with the bank and their Chinese suppliers but find themselves castigated as their business develops.
Zambia cannot keep bending over to our Chinese counterparts and citizens must monitor such institutions. It is not impossible for Bank of China to improve their conduct; their Indian counterparts Indo Zambia Bank Limited have worked diligently in the community helping not only their own but also facilitating for local business to develop.
*Chipindi Caleb Fundanga*
Institute of Finance and Economics”