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Business News of Thursday, 24 July 2003

Source: GNA

Panellists kick against privatisation of GCB

Sunyani, July 24, GNA - Panellists at the end of a day's round table discussion in Sunyani added their voice to that of the public in kicking against the privatisation of Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB). They brainstormed on government's intended decision on the GCB and its impact on the ordinary Ghanaian and the national economy on Wednesday.

Representatives of various civil society groups, non-governmental organisations, public institutions and organisations and some individuals attended the discussion that was under the auspices of ISODEC.

In a resolution, they called on the government to reconsider its stand to off-load its 46.8 per cent share in the bank.

It said the privatisation of GCB would not only lead to the collapse of rural economies and the entire economy of Ghana but would also aggravate the already mass unemployment situation in the country.

The resolution said between 1996 and 2001 the GCB made significant changes in its managerial capabilities, initiated fiscal policies that led to networking of some of its branches that enabled it to make profits.

The resolution said the bank had also "lived up to its social responsibility, culminating in efficiency, profitability, sustainability and meeting objectives of its establishment".

It appealed to the government to improve the harnessing of both the country's human and natural resources to avoid succumbing to pressures from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The resolution said:''The government should rely on local/internal initiatives to avoid the privatisation of our birth right since the GCB is a bona fide national property that symbolises the pride of every Ghanaian.''

Mr Sadik Yakubu Bukari, Brong-Ahafo Regional Secretary of Trades Union Congress (TUC), called for a policy that would make it mandatory for institutions such as State Insurance Company, Social Security and National Insurance Trust, UNILEVER, religious bodies, the Ghanaian public and those resident outside the country to own shares in the bank to enable it to raise the 15 million dollars it needs.

He said: ''IMF and WB prescriptions cannot be the panacea for solving the country's economic woes because earlier prescriptions such as the Economic Recovery Programme, Structural Adjustment Programme and the Financial Sector Adjustment Programme (FINSAP) could not make any significant change in the economy.''

Mr Kobina Afena-Sam, Coordinator of Brong-Ahafo Network of NGOs (BANGO), said if the government should sustain the GCB to further promote the ploughing back of profits made as against the repatriation of profits by strategic investors, the country would be better placed economically.

He suggested that issues relating to national interest "should not be put in the domain of partisan politics".