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Opinions of Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Columnist: Prof. John Gatsi

Deal with banking crisis inclusively

In a banking crisis where the resolution of the crisis has implications for taxpayers (fiscal cost), restoration of domestic and cross-border confidence in the banking sector as well as job losses while protecting depositors, an inclusive stakeholder approach is the best resolution mechanism. This is premised on the fact that Parliament, Government and Bank of Ghana should always work together with approved bailout package by parliament for the resolution process.

The Bank of Ghana cannot find shelter under section 7 of Act 930 when in reality, there is no emergency about the crisis. We are aware of the dangers and should have engaged before activating a programme to save the banks that are in crisis. The seeming political disunity about the resolution of the current banking crisis in which there is no prior engagement with parliament could generate future investigations.

He explained that managing a crisis is a project that should require inclusive stakeholder engagement. He drew lessons from the approach adopted during the 1990s banking crisis in Sweden where parliament, government and the Central Bank worked together to the extent that the political opposition and government had a joint press release to assure depositors and provide a better understanding of what was going on in the banking sector to members of parliament. This step was important because all parties need a robust, sound and stable banking sector. He further explained that transparency in this process cannot be trivialized. He said a total fiscal cost of about Gh¢ 8billion of the seven banks cannot be left in the hands of BoG and Government alone without active involvement of parliament.

On indigenous banks, he explained that the Banks and Specialized Deposit Taking Institutions Act regulates ALL banks irrespective of whether they are foreign or Ghanaian owned. However, salvaging distressed indigenous banks (innocent to say) is in our collective interest and the government should be practically interested.

Prof. Gatsi revealed using Bank of Ghana sector report vol. 2.4 that there is an urgent need to rethink about how to support indigenous businesses because in 2016 they contributed 76% to non-performing loans(NPLs) and in 2017 contributed 78%. This, he said, means indigenous businesses’ inability to repay loans also affected indigenous banks negatively. He advised that our interest in indigenous banks should include rural and community banks because of their ability to finance indigenous rural businesses.

On the newly created Consolidated Bank, he indicated that the process of registering the bank, and whether the state own banks want to populate the banking sector are not clear. "Parliamentary involvement is not known and parliament should be interested as this may be a serious violation of the role parliament should play."