First Ghana conducts AGM in Twi

BY: Samuel Doe Ablordeppey
Dr John Kwaku Asamoah (standing) explaining a point as other board members look on.
Dr John Kwaku Asamoah (standing) explaining a point as other board members look on.

Part of the annual general meeting (AGM) of First Ghana Savings and Loans Ltd (FGSL) was conducted in Twi in a rare twist of events when one of the shareholders said she could not follow the discussions in the English language.

“I have a son in the university who usually asks me what was discussed at the AGM but I am not able to say anything to him because I don’t understand the discussions in the language used,” Madam Comfort Ama Agyapong Asiamah, a shareholder from Koforidua in the Eastern Region said.

This declaration forced the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Dr John Kwaku Asamoah, to translate parts of the business for the AGM last Thursday in Twi, a local language.

This included the discussions before the motion to fix directors’ remuneration, which had not been revised for three years, was put to vote.  

The chairman’s clarity of explanations and enduring efforts to carry everybody along led to a deeper discussion of the issues and diverse contributions in Twi, including two counter motions from the floor, one of which Madam Asiamah seconded.

While the directors proposed a cap of 50 per cent increment, two other counter motions proposed 20 per cent and 30 per cent caps.

 When the motions were finally put to a vote, the directors’ remuneration was approved to increase by not more than 30 per cent.

While the shareholders empathised that the increment was necessary, they also argued that the company was still going through challenges as efforts to put it on sound footing continued.

Financial performance

According to the chairman of the six-member board, the company recorded a net loss of GH¢300,000 in 2017 compared to the GH¢290,000 loss posted in 2016.

The operating income of First Ghana Savings and Loans declined by four per cent from GH¢6.99 million in 2017 to GH¢6.72 million last year due to increased borrowing rates.

The company, however, managed to tame its operating expenses, reducing it by 3.5 per cent from GH¢6.13 million in 2016 to GH¢5.92 last year.

Although customer deposits grew by 17 per cent from GH¢21.62 million in 2016 to GH¢25.27 million in 2017, non-performing loans (NPLs) ratio was still high at 41 per cent, although an improvement over the 46 per cent the previous year.

Constraints

The main constraint to the company’s performance was the manual operations it was still engaged.
Dr Asamoah explained that the company had started implementing a three-year strategic plan (2018-2020) which hinged on computerising the operations of the company.

“The strategy focuses on technology optimisation, quality human resource management, image building and rebranding, and customer satisfaction,” the board chairman explained.

He said the high NPLs ratio of the bank was because it complied with a Bank of Ghana directive to write off some legacy non-performing loans dating back to the days the company was a Building Society and that it was a one-time bullet the company had to bite to clean the books and ensure better performance going forward.

Medium term plans

The Managing Director of the company, Mr William Hor, said the medium-term plan was aimed at positioning the company among the largest savings and loans companies in the country.

He said FGSL would continue to refurbish its offices to make them attractive and comfortable for banking operations, as well as improve customer satisfaction, adding that “we are going to increase our visibility considerably through our community service and marketing.” — GB

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