Business News of Wednesday, 9 January 2019
The government and the Bank of Ghana (BoG) have been accused of a deliberate political hard-handiness in what was described as a clean-up exercise in the banking sector which led to the extinction of 16 banks within two years.
The BoG in 2017 embarked on a comprehensive reform agenda to strengthen the regulatory and supervisory framework for a more resilient banking sector.
In so doing, some banks had their licences revoked for various banking infractions and others have been merged for their inability to raise the new 400 million-cedi minimum capital requirement as of December 31, 2018.
But the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has described the entire exercise as “disastrous polarization and victimization” of Ghanaian businessmen.
A statement issued by the opposition party, Tuesday January 8, cautioned the government to be mindful of the ripple implications of its “draconian actions” on the ordinary Ghanaian.
“The NPP Government must be reminded that these businessmen or women are first Ghanaians and their businesses employ the citizens of our great nation”, the statement read.
With reference to the most recent development in the banking sector where the license of Heritage Bank Ghana was revoked on the grounds that its majority shareholder, Mr Seidu Agongo, failed the “fit and proper person” test, and thus, was “unsuitable” to own or run a bank in Ghana. The minority observed that the pronouncement was prejudicial noting the issue is a matter in court.
“The Governor stated categorically that the funds used to acquire Heritage Bank’s license were derived from contracts awarded to Mr. Agongo by COCOBOD which are currently the basis of criminal prosecution in the High Court of Ghana…
“We find this very disappointing and unfair. It is rather unfortunate that a whole Central Bank Governor will act in such a prejudicial and unjust manner based on presumptions that are not considered “prima facie”. Although the matter is still in the high court and pending final adjudication, the Governor has pronounced Mr. Agongo guilty and, on this basis, decided with his management and Board to deprive him of his hard-earned investment”, it added.
According to the minority, the actions of the government and the BoG raises questions about the revocation of the license of Unibank which was owned by an NDC affiliate, Dr Kwabena Duffour.
“This position taken by the governor has blown the lid on the unfair targeting of investors such as Dr Kwabena Duffour because of their affiliation with the NDC”.
The NDC is also questioning the criteria used by the Ministry of Finance in selecting the six banks which have not been able to reach the minimum capital requirement but are being supported by government through the Ghana Amalgamated Trust (GAT). It is demanding the publication of the selection guidelines.
The minority is thus calling on “the Government to stop the victimisation” stating “we are not against the sanitization of the financial sector but will resist any form of political oppression and victimisation in any form”.