BoG urged to modify directives on banks to improve their liquidity

Mr Alhassan Andani, Stanbic Bank CEOMr Alhassan Andani, Stanbic Bank CEOThe Chief Executive Officer of Stanbic Bank Ghana, Mr Alhassan Andani, has urged the Bank of Ghana to modify or completely withdraw some of the directives it imposed on commercial banks in the country in order to provide relief and improve liquidity in the sector.

“The measures, introduced by the Bank of Ghana to halt the decline in the currency had a significant impact on the banks’ operations and performance”, he said, adding that “In particular, the requirement to reserve for 100 per cent of Vostro balances and foreign currency deposits in local currency not only constrained the banks’ liquidity, but also dented their profitability given elevated local interest rates and the opportunity cost of these funds”.

A Vostro bank account is an account that one party is holding for another party. In a Vostro account, the administrators are not actually the owners of the money, however, administrators, often banks, frequently pay interest to other parties for the use of their money. 

Mr Andani said “With a measure of stability achieved in the currency markets, the expectation is for the Bank of Ghana to modify or completely withdraw some of these directives in order to provide relief and improve liquidity in the sector”.

The Stanbic Bank Ghana CEO said this at the Annual General Meeting of the bank in Accra where he released the sterling financial performance of the bank for the year 2012.

The bank, a subsidiary of the Standard Bank Group, headquartered in South Africa, recorded a profit of Ghc56.90 million for the year under review.

The amount is 97 per cent higher than that of the previous year’s figure of Ghc28.83 million. 

The banks’ total assets also skyrocketed from Ghc1,707,908 during the year under review from Ghc1,136,981 in 2011.

The achievement of the bank which has been consistent with its strategy to become the biggest bank in the country makes it the fifth largest bank in the industry, a significant change from the 13th position recorded seven years ago.

He said “Despite the challenging economic environment, Ghana’s banking industry remained robust in 2012; By year-end, all banks in operation had complied with  Bank of Ghana’s directive on minimum capital requirements. 

The Bank of Ghana in its quest to boost the financial clout of the banks in the country to enable them to take up major businesses such as the type in the oil and gas industry, directed the commercial banks in the country to up their minimum capital to Ghc60 million, a directive they all seem to have complied with.

Although the amount is only a fraction of their counterparts in Nigeria, which are required to have a minimum capital of $250 million, some indigenous banks have vehemently opposed the BOG’s order although they have managed to fully comply.

Mr Andani  also gave an overview of the banking terrain, saying there was one merger and two new entrants during the year, developments which further intensified competition within the sector. 

He said “With a total of 28 licensed banks, there is reasonable justification and expectation for further consolidation within Ghana’s banking industry in the near future”.

Later in an interview with a cross section of financial journalists in Accra,  he said the bank had the financial clout to undertake projects within the economy that would help see major transformation in all sectors.

“He said considering our clout globally, any amount sourced from us will be global in nature because on the continent and in the world, the Standard Bank Group is big and has a lot of reputation”.

He said the bank would leverage at all times to enable it to stay above competition, and also make its advantages felt on the economy.

Mr Andani said in the year under review, Stanbic Bank continued to aggressively roll out new products and services within our PBB unit to enhance our client offering. 

He also mentioned that some of the new initiatives included SMS and email alerts, mobile banking and executive banking. 

“We also invested significantly in the branch network, laying the groundwork for the establishment of eight new branches; four of these branches will be launched in early 2013 with the remainder set to open by year end 2013’’ he said, adding that “We also extended the ATM network by 11 additional units to 45 units at year-end”.

Story: Charles Benoni Okine

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