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Opinions of Friday, 2 February 2007

Columnist: Adomako, Appiah Kusi

Beyond The Re-Domination Of The Ghanaian Cedi

The Bank of Ghana starting from July 1st would slash four zeroes from the existing Ghanaian cedis. Under the re-domination exercise, ten thousand Ghanaian cedis would be equal to one new Ghanaian cedi. The re-domination is as results of sustained and stable economic gains which the economy appears to have chalked over the years. Should this exercise be carried on successfully, the government of the day should be congratulated for the burden of not carrying money in cocoa sacks. A friend of mine jokingly said that after the re-domination, we would know the number of millionaires in the country. Essentially, the exercise is not intended to reduce the worth of people but rather reduce transaction time and cost.

The Committee For Joint Action (CJA) has broken their loud silence on the re-domination. Last week statement signed by Kwesi Pratt that there are other ways by which the Bank of Ghana can resolve the cedi issue rather than to resort to re-domination. They talked about the usage of credit and debit cards, and cheques. These are brilliant ideas. At this material moment however, they may seem to be impossible.

Bank of Ghana should move a further step in the currency circulations in the system. What do I mean by this? We live in a nation where every transaction in this country must be paid for with cash. Until recently, all secondary schools and tertiary institutions did not accept cash for the payment of fees. The usage of cash for every transaction puts pressure on the Bank of Ghana to print more cash for circulation. If something is not done hurriedly to solve this problem the cost to the Bank of Ghana for printing would always go up and we would achieve nothing in the re-denomination.

The Bank should lead the campaign for people to use alternative forms of payment other than cash. The job of changing attitude within a people who have used cash for all their transactions for so many years is not an easy enterprise.

THE USAGE OF CREDIT AND DEBIT CARDS

Business transactions in the country are slow. The shape of the world today does not permit us the luxury of gradual approach in doing business. When in some countries business transactions move with the speed of light whilst we creep at horse and buggy pace like obtaining coffee at a lunch counter.

Bank of Ghana should lead the campaign by causing a paradigm shift ‘’ from cash to cashless system.” This can be achieved by making mandatory that every waged or salaried worker, whether a labourer in Kejetia Lorry Park or casual worker at Tema Habour be paid through a bank. This would even permit tax deduction should the income reach the taxable threshold. Beyond this, it allows for proper calculation of gross national incomes of all Ghanaians.

Most Ghanaian traders and businesses do not want to deal with the banks because of perceived hidden deductions. Perhaps, as a way of luring more Ghanaians into banking services, the Bank of Ghana and the Government should give some relief to the banks in the country so that they do not burden customers with excessive deductions.

With the success in the VISA ELECTRON transactions between Barclays, Standard Chartered, SG-SSB and ECOBANK banks, I think there is a way by which customers of these banks can double use of their ATM cards as well as the debit card. There should be serious attempts on the part of Bank of Ghana, the Association of Rural Banks and APEX to link rural banks to the national network. Piloting the use of credit or debit cards for certain categories of income earners would do a lot to help prepare the ground for possible giant take of credit card usage in the country.

SPECIALIZED BRANCH OF POLICE Ghana has been identified as the hub of the ‘419 scam.’ It even came out that Ghana risked been banned by US Federal Bureau Investigation (FBI) for the use of stolen credit cards for online payments. People have been using stolen credit cards to do online purchases. This has the potential for destroying our national image. What do we have to do?

We need a specialized branch of Ghana Police Service like the Commercial Crime Unit (CCU) to monitor electronic transactions in the country. With the coming into place of the National Identification System(NIS), the work of the CCU would be easier. The CCU should be resourced electronically. This Unit needs more than Police Servicemen but also ICT experts. If we fail to get the right people to do the work, the tendency for the would-be usurpers to be ahead of the police is great.

THE USAGE OF PURSES AND WALLETS

Research has shown that the Ghanaian cedi does not last long. This is due to the way it is handled. People place the cedi anywhere. A visit to the market centers attest to this. The Bank of Ghana should undertake a nation-wide campaign to educate Ghanaians especially those in the informal sector.

Pupils at the basic schools should be taught how to handle safely currency notes and coins. To this end students at the first cycle schools should be provided with wallets and purses. May be the Bank of Ghana and the Ghana Education Service can subside the cost of the wallets and purses. When children learn something from the classroom with supervision by the teacher, the tendency for the thing to become part of the student or pupil is great. The Police should be allowed to deal with those who mishandle the cedi.

Appiah Kusi Adomako is an international freelance writer and the president of the Ghana Chapter of Leaders of Tomorrow Foundation. He can be contacted through: Leaders of Tomorrow Foundation, P.O. BOX. KS 13640. Kumasi.
E-mail: appiahkusiy2k@yahoo.com Tel: 027-740-2467


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