Apply to reduce licence class or risk closure - BoG tells banks

BY: Suleiman Mustapha and Della Russel Ocloo
Participants with officials of the BoG and Ecobank Ghana at the workshop
Participants with officials of the BoG and Ecobank Ghana at the workshop

The Bank of Ghana (BoG) has advised commercial banks who may not be able to meet the GH¢400 million minimum capital requirement by December 2018 to apply to reduce the class of their licences from universal banking status or risk closure.

According to the Special Advisor to the Governor of the BoG, Dr Benjamin Amoah, whereas there was still a window of opportunity for the banks that were yet to meet the requirements to explore mergers, applying for a reduction in the class of licence to become financial institutions or microfinance companies would ensure that the owners of those banks would be able to maintain their businesses.

“The BoG has a tier system made up of the universal banks, savings and loans, rural banks and microfinance institutions, so if you cannot meet the standard requirements of a universal bank, it will be appropriate to apply to be reduced to a lower class which is equally allowed,” Dr Amoah told the Daily Graphic on the sidelines of a financial reporting workshop organised by members of Journalists for Business Advocacy (JBA), in partnership with Ecobank Ghana.

The programme, on the theme, “Understanding the financial market — The role of journalists”, was to develop the capacity of journalists to be able to report critically on issues relating to the development of the financial market.

Representatives of the BoG — Dr Simon Harvey, Ms Natalia Lawson and Mr Stephen Amoah — educated participants on monetary policy, promoting financial stability and regulating the microfinance industry.   

Panic withdrawal

Answering questions on panic withdrawal, Dr Amoah stated that the present financial market did not call for panic withdrawal.

“I do not think it is necessary because no bank can meet depositors withdrawing all their money at a go, since they may not be able to meet the withdrawal structure owing to the fact that money is deposited in banks as a means of financial intermediation,” Dr Amoah said.

He added that whereas banks mobilised funds from people with surplus and made it available through the granting of facilities to people with deficiencies, “they do not keep the money in their chests, since it is often given out as credit”.

Financial reporting

In a speech read on his behalf, the Governor of the BoG, Dr Ernest Addison, stated that the framework of having journalists involved in monetary policy processes further imposed transparency requirements which both the BoG and the universal banks ought to conform to.

Ecobank

The Executive Director of Ecobank, Mr Morgan Fianko Asiedu, in his remarks, suggested that a good understanding of the financial sector by journalists could lead to discussions and persuade the public to have trust in the banking system.

That, he said, was the surest way of ensuring financial inclusion, protecting the safety of depositors’ funds and the preservation of the value of the savings and investments of patrons of financial services.

GJA

The General Secretary of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Mr Kofi Yeboah, commended the JBA and tasked the members to develop modalities for short financial reporting courses with some selected universities, so that it would serve as a platform for building the capacity of new entrants into the profession.

“Considering the attrition rate within the journalism profession, I want to urge you to go beyond this training for your members to develop a handbook to serve as a reference point for people who are likely to come into the profession when you are exiting,” he counselled.

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