Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia in a group photograph with the participants of the Ghana Economic Conference
Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia yesterday outdoored a number of strategies government intends to adopt to formalize the Ghanaian economy.
As it is now, he said, “This economy is so informal,” reason why the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration has decided to put measures in place to formalize the economy.
He made the revelation when he addressed The Ghana Economic Outlook and Business Strategy (EOBS) conference in Accra under the theme, “Unlocking Ghana’s economic potential with mobile money and payment systems.”
For him, formalizing the Ghanaian economy essentially hinges on three pillars – financial inclusion, national identification and property addressing system.
The vice president was therefore believes, “If you have these three pillars, then you have the necessary backbone for a formal economy.”
Those are the three pillars the Akufo-Addo-led NPP government wants to build in its first-year in office, according to Dr Bawumia.
“I’m not talking of next year; I’m talking of 2017. We’ve been 60 years trying to do these things. But I think that the benefit of technology and the benefit of shared experience across countries would allow us to do this, this year,” were his exact words.
He asserted, “For citizens really to register and use the mobile money and digital payment system, they really need an identification instrument,” whiles expressing worry about the fact that there is not a unique system of identification in the country.
That was part of the reasons why “In January this year, I inaugurated a committee to start work on the country having a national ID system under the direction of the president.”
According to him, “The government of Nana Akufo-Addo is convinced that the national ID scheme will formalize the economy through the establishment of a national database, using the national identification system as the primary identifier.”
Dr Bawumia, who is an economist and former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana (Central Bank), stressed the belief that “inter-operability or the ability of a subscriber to send money from one network to the other should be possible in Ghana as a matter of course as it is in other countries.”
For him, “This is a very important issue; it is an issue that all the stakeholders should turn our attention to” because “Ghana is really a blessed country when you look at the financial inclusion architecture; the banks are there; the mobile companies are there, the central banks, Ghana Inter-Bank Payment and Settlement Services (GIBPS) and the payment system architecture with e-zwich which tries to target the unbanked.”
Apart from that he indicated, “We have an architecture that quite frankly I don’t see in any other country in Africa. What we are lacking is inter-operability.”
He has therefore thrown an open challenge to the stakeholders to “make sure that there is inter-operability between Ghana Link, the banks around, the e-zwich platform and the mobile telephone platforms,” insisting, “It’s not rocket science; if you put your minds to it, it can be done in six months.”
“I believe that GIBPS is in a unique position to bring the banks and the telcos together to make their platforms inter-operable so that you can transfer money between the telcos and the banks and so on very easily,” he stated, whiles noting with emphasis, “This is something I will honestly challenge you and I want to challenge GIBPS and the banks; I will like and government will like to see us do this, this year.”
He thus urged banks and the telcos to collaborate to increase the range of services available to customers.
Meanwhile, an Accra-based radio station, Citi 97.3 FM, had petitioned Vice President Bawumia to launch an investigation into a contract awarded by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to Sibton Switch Systems for the creation of the country’s Retail Payment Infrastructure System.
The Retail Payment Infrastructure contract, which was awarded by the BoG in 2016, is valued at a whopping GH¢4,667,414,340.82.
Under the said contract – which has been described by many experts in the industry as unnecessary and shady – Sibton Switch Systems Limited, a company reportedly formed in August 2015, would run a system to make banks, mobile money platforms and other payment systems interoperable.
Two other entities that bid for the same contract – Vas Intel Limited and Mericom Solutions Limited – submitted tender amounts and packages worth GH¢14,094,795.00 and GH¢5,465,396.06 respectively, according to reports.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu, Presidential Correspondent