Recapitalisation will not lead to takeovers – Bank of Ghana

The Bank of Ghana has described as erroneous, suggestions from a section of the country’s banking community that its new recapitalisation directives  could  lead to Ghanaian banks being taken over by foreign interests.

While registering the bank’s commitment to the GH¢60 million recapitalisation for all banks by the December 2012 deadline, the BoG Governor, Mr Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, said “the Central Bank believes in positive discrimination” and will therefore not undertake policies that seek to reduce local participation in the banking  sector.

Mr Amissah-Arthur who made the comments at this year’s annual bankers’ dinner in Accra said BoG’s policies on banking “seek to support and enhance domestic participation in the business of banking”.

“Viable domestic ownership is critical to the long-term sustainability of our banking system,” the governor said but noted that BoG would continue in its bid to recapitalise local banks to the new minimum capital.

The Central Bank in 2008, issued a new directive that mandated all banks operating in the country to raise their respective minimum capital to GH¢60 million.

Although foreign owned banks were given a one year period within which to meet the directive, domestically controlled banks were expected to recapitalise to GH¢25 million by December 2010 and subsequently reach the GH¢60 million by December 2012.

The directive has, however, not gone down well with the local banks with some insisting that the new recapitalisation directive was forcing all banks to be big despite some wanting to remain small to serve the underprivileged business community.

Such an argument, according to Governor Amissah-Arthur, are “erroneous”. The notion that “the insistence on minimum capitalisation (by BoG) forces homogenous sizing is erroneous,” the governor said adding that events on the global scene made it impossible for Ghanaian banks to act ‘local’ by holding back external influences.

“We must recognise that global competition is forced on us by technology and the search for yield. Thus it is impractical to seek to remain parochial,” the Governor stressed.

For local banks that are yet to recapitalise to the GH¢60 million, Mr Amissah-Arthur emphasised that “the December 2012 deadline  for achieving the minimum capitalisation is binding.”

As a result, he said “banks must recapitalise to the required level by that date or risk the withdrawal of their licenses or re-categorisation with attendant loss of benefits.”

That notwithstanding, Mr Amissah-Arthur said capital-deficient banks that list on the stock exchange “will be considered to be in material compliance with the minimum capital requirement.”

Such a move, he said, was part of efforts by the Central Bank aimed at getting all banks listed on the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) so as “to retain a minimum level of a Ghanaian character of our banking system.”

And to show the Central Bank’s commitment to ensuring that all banks were listed, the Governor said “BoG will float its shares in the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) on the GSE as soon as ADB completes the process of converting from a statutory corporation to one operating under the Company Code.”

Source: Daily Graphic

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