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General News of Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Source: rainbowradioonline.com

You cannot blame me over collapse of banks; headlines were unfortunate - Terkper

Former Finance Minister Seth Terkper has rubbished recent publications, which reported him of accepting responsibility over the collapse of some seven local banks in the country.

In an exclusive interview with Kwame Tutu on Frontline on Rainbow Radio 87.5FM, the former minister said, due to the debts in the energy sector, some through subsidizing petroleum and power, it became difficult for several banks to have loans given to companies back.

A third of the energy sector debts, ¢2.71 billion, was owed to financial institutions alone. Governemnt then introduced the new levies through the Energy Sector Levies Act (ESLA) in 2015.

According to him, within a year, the Mahama government raised $300million, some of which it used to provide "immediate liquidity" to banks owed by the Volta River Authority.

He told the host ESLA helped government was able to restructure two billion cedis in energy sector debts, which involved 11 banks.

Mr Terkper indicated that the previous administration dedicated an amount of $1.5 billion to alleviate the challenges in the banking sector.

ESLA also helped his administration to pay the debt of VRA over a five-year period.

He believes the move by the NDC did it best and felt the new NPP could have completed the process and ignored the collapse of the bank.

Apart from raising ¢1.28bn to solve the energy problems that had overexposed banks, government also raised ¢1.06bn to settle arrears owed contractors who also owed banks.

He further argued that, ESLA gave government ¢1.4bn from energy debt recovery levy and ¢1.3bn from road levy making ¢2.7bn, he claimed.

ESLA had become so successful, the Akufo-Addo government extended it for 10 years, the former minister asserted. The main reason for ESLA was to help the banks, the former Finance minister stressed.

If government had extended, it meant it was getting huge funds, which could have saved the banks, Seth Terkper stated.

The fact that I was at the Ministry of Finance does not mean I should be blamed for the collapse of the local banks because we put in a lot of measures and so if we want to discuss the collapse of banks, we have to go back to ESLA.