The Deputy Minister of Finance, Mrs Mona Helen Quartey, has said Ghana’s economy is repositioned for aggressive transformation, following steady improvement in the country’s macroeconomic stability largely reflected in the Cedi’s performance against the dollar.
She also said the economy is ready for smooth rapid growth due to the country’s successful three times review results from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) $ 918 million three-year loan facility to boost growth, jobs and stability.
“With the macroeconomic stability incrementally improving, we had successful results from our third review with the IMF and therefore, there is no doubt, that Ghana is now poised for growth.
“Financial institutions now have the opportunity to expand their services and reduce their cost,” she added.
The Deputy Minister said this at the Fidelity Bank’s Customer appreciation Dinner and “Save for Gold” promotion grand draw during which the Bank rewarded hundreds of customers with gold bars and coins in a move to promote savings culture in the country.
Ghana has one of the lowest savings ratio in Sub Saharan Africa, Mrs Quartey said, with a rate of 8 to 12 per cent, which is pegged against 25 per cent average for the region.
“This is an impediment to rapid economic growth and development, our ability to increase the savings rate depends on many factors with the most important being development of new savings products,” she said.
“The savings will support significantly high levels of investment needed to propel the country into higher economic growth, but the task for financial sector reforms is far from accomplished.”
Mrs Quartey commended Fidelity Bank for creating financial inclusion unit, saying “financial inclusion is a very important part of our financial development, and save for gold is a very constructive initiative, which I believe is designed to build a culture of savings among us Ghanaians.”
She noted that the move to broaden participation in the formal financial system and promote long term savings and investment culture with gold prices could motivate the wider population to build robust savings attitude.
She expressed the hope that celebration of customers with gold prices would define development agenda of the financial industry.
The financial industry, however, she said is faced with several challenges including low levels of savings reflected in large savings and investment gap as well as high level of currency outside the banking sector.
She said high level of financial exclusion; with a large number of Ghanaians unable to participate in the formal financial system, pose grave concern to industry players.
The industry is also challenged with high cost of financial intermediation reflected in high spread between borrowing and lending rate, and limited access to credit by Small and Medium Enterprises.
“We are particularly concerned about the persistent high lending rate even though we have short term interest rate coming down,” Mrs Quartey said.
She said licensing of more banks and the overall improvement in the business environment should contribute to improved services in the sector.
“Government is interested in seeing the expansion of financial services to the disadvantaged in our society especially the rural poor,” said.
She lauded managers of the institution for creating a department on financial inclusion.
“I, therefore, call on other financial institutions to demonstrate a commitment to expand financial service access for all.
“The financial sector exists to create an environment that is efficient in mobilising and allocating funds fully integrated with the global financial system and supported by regulatory system that promote high degree of confidence.”
Mrs Quartey said domestic resource mobilisation has become very important in how the Ghana finances the sustainable development goals and the African Union agenda 2063 as well as the 40-year development plan.
Human resource and skills development remain important to realise the vision of the financial sector, she said.
“If you want to build a stronger and a more competitive economy we need to build our people, the challenge is a tough one, but I am confident that both government and industry are up to the task, and Fidelity Bank continues to show the way,” she said.
Mr Julius Debra, the Chief of Staff said Fidelity is one of few financial institutions that aid needy communities and stay true to their corporate social responsibility objectives to empower the country’s citizens through financial literacy.
“When people are financially empowered, it reflects directly on the economic foundation of our beloved Ghana,” he said.
“When people are poor, our nation is poor, every organisation that has a culture of rewarding customers, cares about the development and wellbeing of the people.”
Fidelity Bank Managing Director, Mr Edward Effah said the bank has reached significant milestones and affected lives positively in several Ghanaian communities.
Despite the 2014 and 2015 economic downturn, bank officials said, the bank registered impressive returns with substantial growth in assets and deposits.
“The total assets of the bank grew by 36 per cent to GH¢4 billion. This increment was driven by strong growth in customer deposits, which increased by 69 per cent to GH¢3 billion,” Mr Effah said.
The bank says it now has nearly one million customers.