CEOs of rural banks confab ends in Ho
• Professor Richard Bani — President of the Volta/Oti Chapter of the Association of Rural Banks

CEOs of rural banks confab ends in Ho

THE 22nd annual Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) Conference of Rural and Community Banks (RCBs) has ended in Ho.

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About 200 CEOs from all the 147 rural banks in the country, officials from the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and ARB Apex Bank are attending the four-day event on: Expanding the frontiers of business for rural and community banks post Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP) – Role of CEOs.

The President of the Volta/Oti Chapter of the Association of Rural Banks, Professor Richard Bani, said at the opening ceremony last week Thursday (October 12) that more than GHS400million of investible funds belonging to the RCBs remained locked up with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulated finance houses.

He said although some of the SEC regulated companies were still in court with the government over disagreements, the main discussions on the locked-up funds seemed to have died down. 

“These locked up funds, if released to the RCBs, could be invested in productive sectors of the rural economy, thereby creating more jobs, transforming lives and improving value for the shareholders of the banks,” Professor added. 

He said since the completion of the financial sector clean-up by the Bank of Ghana (BoG), the central bank had placed a moratorium on the payment of dividends by the RCBs, and since most banks were operating with very limited capital base, it was difficult for them to expand their operations to make more profits.

“The dwindling capital of the banks is translating into low profits or losses for many RCBs at the end of every financial year for almost five consecutive years, and this is a major source of concern for the shareholders of the banks and members of the communities in which we operate,” Professor Bani revealed.

He said credit was the lifeblood of the operations of the RCBs and the locked-up were threatening the survival of the RCBs. 

Professor Bani made it clear that there was the need for swift and drastic measures from the government to release to the RCBs to ease the burden on the Directors and CEOs of the banks who could then strategise and create better value for the shareholders of the banks. 

The Board Chairman of ARB Apex Bank, Dr Toni Aubynn, said the recent DDEP had undoubtedly brought about a significant transformation in the country’s financial sector.

“Even as it sought to restructure our national debt, and enhance government’s capacity to support economic growth, it has disoriented the growth plan of RCBs,”’ he observed.

Dr Aubynn said it was crucial to recognise the unique role that RCBs played in fostering economic development and financial inclusion, adding, they were the lifeblood for essential financial services to individuals and businesses that were often overlooked by larger financial institutions.

He urged CEOs of RCBs to thrive to shape the future of those financial institutions and, in turn, the communities they served.

“We must embrace innovation and technology to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations,” he added.

The conference areas for discussion include: Strategising for Sustainability post DDEP, Embedding Environmental, Social and Governance Principle in RCB Operations, Mechanics of Government Treasury Auctions, and other topics.

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