6-12 June 2014 #710

“Going green is good for business”

The new CEO of Laxmi Bank, Sudesh Khaling, speaks to Nepali Times about his company’s emphasis on supporting environment-friendly ventures

Nepali Times: Laxmi Bank has promoted renewable energy and environmental projects. Is it a conscious part of your mission?

Sudesh Khaling: Going Green has become a conscious practice and belief adopted by every single employee at Laxmi Bank. Promoting bicycles as emission-free means of transportation through an array of activities, offering attractive loan packages for environment-friendly products and savings product that reward the customer for eco-friendly practices are some of the bank’s activities to reinforce our focus on the environment. The bank also offers a “Green Savings Account” that has been planting one tree for every account a customer opens with us.

Does that mean you take a wider view of the economy that goes beyond just profit-loss and supply-demand?

Profit-loss and supply-demand are the fundamentals of any economy, and we believe that pro-environment activities should justify the economic fundamentals to allow for wider and a long-term sustainability. For example, we reward “Green Savings Account” with a slight premium on the interest rate offer; on account of the amount of reduction it brings to our overheads with lesser print of bank statements, and other documents. Electronic banking means convenience to the customers along with lesser congestion at the bank branches. “Orange Loves Green” is the bank’s “green” banking package with a suite of electronic banking channels being offered at a discounted rate, as an appreciation to the customers’ willingness to be as ‘paper-free’ as possible.

Your bank has taken the lead in backing zero interest urban household-level energy alternatives. How does that make business sense?

At Laxmi Bank, we value sustainable practices and offer packages for our customers that help them better manage their finances while ensuring that we continuously provide such benefits for our customers not forgetting that products offered by banks are business driven.

Which sectors of the environment and energy would you like to see addressed in the new budget through incentives and subsidies?

The grid cannot supply enough electricity and we have power outages. Solar is a good stop-gap alternative that individual households can invest in to cope with powercuts. The government has started subsidising urban household solar installation. However, a lot more could be added to the package to make it more attractive for a wider array of households to adopt solar technologies as their household solutions. The budget could not extend this to make industries and offices also adopt solar power. The community is adopting a lot of green practices, but this adds a cost burden. It is as if we are punishing them for being responsible citizens. The government should incentivise such practices and make going green good for business.

Last year, you lit up Bagmati Bridge with solar-powered lights, are there plans to extend this anywhere?

The bank has lit up multiple places both inside and outside the valley as a part of its “Ujyalo Abhiyan” to light up public spaces even when there is no power. We find this also promotes interest and awareness of solar power as a practical and responsible alternative. The bank intends to light up at least one prominent location of public interest every year and keep the spirit alive.

Read also:

A sunnier future, Maneeshika Madduri

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