‘Make status of banks public’

BY: Chris Nunoo & Edmund Smith Asante
Mrs Elsie Addo Awadzi making a contribution during panel discussion at the Graphic Business/Stanbic Bank breakfast meeting in Accra
Mrs Elsie Addo Awadzi making a contribution during panel discussion at the Graphic Business/Stanbic Bank breakfast meeting in Accra

Participants in this year’s Graphic Business/Stanbic Bank Breakfast Meeting have appealed to the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to be forthcoming with information on the status of banks operating in the country.

That, they said, was critical, as it would help depositors make informed decisions regarding their dealings with the various banks.

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The issue of the banking regulator ensuring transparency became the major subject matter during question time at the breakfast meeting in Accra on Tuesday.

The participants were of the view that the current practice of the BoG keeping depositors in the dark and only coming out to announce the closure or merger of some banks was making many of them and business people apprehensive.

The meeting, which attracted participants from the financial sector, including banking and microfinance institutions, as well as insurance companies, was on the theme: “Liquidity and solvency management — Boosting the health of banking in Ghana”.

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Consumer protection

A national customer service advocate, Mr Hector Wulff, in a contribution, bemoaned the present practice and accused the BoG of not doing enough to protect the interest of the consumer.

He also accused consumer protection institutions in the country of failing to protect depositors.

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BoG and transparency

The Second Deputy Governor of the BOG, Mrs Elsie Awadzi, in a response, said the BOG already required banks to publish financial statements every year and they were doing that.

However, some banks, according to her, had asked for an extension in adhering to the regulation because they had problems with their auditors.

She said the BoG was monitoring what was going on in order to decide whether to act on the request for extension or not.

“This year, we have told the banks we are not extending the time for them. We expect all of them to comply with the requirement to publish the financial statement,” she added.

On the issue of transparency, Mrs Awadzi said: “We believe already there is the requirement in place for banks to be transparent about their financial statements and their financial health and so where we have cause to believe something is amiss, we take an action and announce it to the public.”

Confidence in banks

Earlier, the acting Managing Director of the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), Mr Ransford Tetteh, in a welcome address, had touted the significance of the Graphic Business/Stanbic Bank Breakfast Meeting, saying it offered the platform for the business community to share views on critical issues relating to business and the well-being of the economy.

He called on the BoG to find solutions to liquidity and solvency challenges confronting the banks and said “news of collapse or takeover of banks by the BoG due to liquidity challenges has led to loss of confidence in the banking sector”.

He stressed the need for the central bank to avoid such a ‘danger’, since banks played a critical role in the mobilisation of funds for productive use.

To boost confidence in the sector required dealing with one of the fundamental causes of the problem — how best to manage liquidity and solvency to keep banks healthy, Mr Tetteh noted.

He expressed the hope that the breakfast meeting would generate the kind of discourse that would result in actions that promoted good liquidity management by banks, kept them consistently solvent and boosted confidence in the banking sector.