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Increase exports to maintain cedi stability- Kofi Amoabeng urges govt

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Prince Kofi Amoabeng

The Chief Executive Officer of the UT Group, Captain Prince Kofi Amoabeng, has called on the government to redouble efforts at increasing exports to help make the cedi sta­ble.

He expressed the fear that if the cedi did not remain stable, the recent fuel price increases could lead to inflation that would derail the eco­nomic stability and gains made in the last two year.

Capt Amoabeng told the Daily Graphic in an interview at a press soiree organised by UT Bank last week that one of the risks to the performance of companies this year was the fuel price increas­es that had the potential to induce inflation and make the cost of doing business expensive.

“In the face of the recent increases in fuel prices, inflation becomes a risk factor for the year as the government can have a hard time control­ling it. My biggest fear is that much of the pro­ceeds from the crude oil is being spent as they arrive,” Capt Amoabeng said in reference to the $1.5 billion STX Housing deal which was equiv­alent to three-year expected proceeds from the Jubilee Oil Field.

The Finance and Economic Planning Minis­ter, Dr Kwabena Duffuor, has, however, stated that the recent petroleum price increases would not significantly lead to inflation, except a blip for a month or two. The prices of premix fuel, which is used by fishermen, and kerosene, mostly used in rural areas, remained unchanged and that can have a deflationary impact on general prices.

In spite of those risks on the horizon, Capt Amoabeng said the bank was ready to take com­petition in the banking industry to another level, as the company was set to post between 25 per cent and 30 per cent growth rate for last year.

“This is the first time we are having a bank that understands the informal economy and the small and medium-scale enterprises sector. We have the capacity to offer loans to customers without bank accounts and we have seen some banks adopting this; the Ghanaian should be the beneficiary at the end of the day,” the CEO of UT Bank stated.

He said the bank’s merger last year was a challenging exercise but was executed successfully and all technical and operational issues had been resolved smoothly.

“We have been used to organic growth and so the merger was a challenge, especially as we had to synchronise the working culture of 200 differ­ent staff. But this has improved our learning curve and the UT working culture has been well impart­ed in the new entrants,” Capt Amoabeng explained.

He said the bank was therefore poised to do more business in 2011, saying: “Our loan book is growing and this year we want to be the best lend­ing bank; lending responsibly within 48 hours.”

Capt Amoabeng said UT Bank would also continue its expansion programme into other parts of the world, adding that the Nigerian oper­ation was already making profit.

The bank, he said, was also considering open­ing branches and offices in South Africa, Zambia and Sierra Leone.

The bank has also received equity investment offers from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank, invested in South Africa and banks in Nigeria and Lebanon, which like the UT Bank model of operation. Other countries like Sudan have also sent open invitations to UT Bank to operate in their countries.

Capt Amoabeng assured shareholders of the bank that whatever investment drive it embarked upon, management would ensure that the owner­ship of the bank remained Ghanaian.

Source: Daily Graphic

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