Johannesburg - Lack of access to banks is still a big
problem in South Africa and must be addressed by the financial sector, Finance
Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Tuesday.
"Access to banking remains a key priority... there has
been improvement, but more can certainly be done," Gordhan told the
Banking Association of SA's second annual banking summit.
He was aware of innovative developments in banking, such as
mobile banking in rural areas, but these needed to be reinforced and sped up.
"These innovations must surely make it possible to bank
more than 70% of South Africans by 2013," he said.
Gordhan said high bank charges were also still a concern.
Although there was evidence the banking sector was moving in
the right direction, it might "need some help to cross the
threshold", he said.
Asked whether banks should be nationalised, Gordhan
answered: "We are a democracy... we don't lock people up for expressing
what might sound like heretical views.
"As a government we have made it very clear our
views... the banks are there, they'll work."
Gordhan encouraged banks to be more supportive of small and
"A critical area where banks can make an important
contribution... is in the area of lending to small and medium business."
He said more resources should be directed to this sector to
promote entrepreneurship and to ensure small and medium businesses made a more
meaningful contribution to the economy.