BoG claims completion of financial sector clean up

The Bank of Ghana (BoG) has announced that with effect from Friday, August 16, 2019, it has completed the clean-up of the banking, specialized deposit-taking (SDI), and non-bank financial institutions (NBFI) sectors which began in August 2017.

This follows the revocation, over the past month of the licenses of nine universal banks, 347 microfinance companies, of which 155 had already ceased operations; 39 micro credit companies or money lenders, 10 of which had already ceased operations; 15 savings and loans companies; eight finance house companies; and two non-bank financial institutions that had already ceased operations.

The central bank, in a statement released last week Friday assured that it is committed to ensuring that the banking, SDI, and NBFI sectors remain resilient, inclusive, and supportive of Ghana’s economic growth trajectory.

To ensure that the remaining institutions remain resilient going forward, the BoG indicates that it will remain vigilant, intensify on-site examinations and enforcement actions including the application of sanctions for non-compliance with statutory, prudential and other requirements, and ensure that early warning signs of distress are mitigated by regulated institutions expeditiously.

Importantly, the BoG’s latest declaration implies that the rural and community banking industry will not be subject to wholesale liquidations like has been done with all the other genres of financial intermediaries including the banks themselves. Apart from the better financial standing of the RCB industry in general, compared to the other genres, financial industry analysts also see this a strategic – the RCB industry is absolutely crucial to the fortunes of the rural economy and its customers are more sensitive to potential regulatory turmoil. Recognizing all this the BoG assures that it will also work with ARB Apex Bank to reposition the rural and community banking sector, to enable them to better support rural economic development.

Furthermore, the central bank and the government will also launch the commencement of operations of the Ghana Deposit Protection Scheme in September 2019 to further strengthen protection of depositors’ interests.

Despite the central bank’s upbeat self-assessment of its clean up efforts, financial industry analysts and commentators note that it is not entirely true; there are still five undercapitalized banks operating in Ghana and the Ghana Amalgamated Trust initiative to finance their recapitalization appears dead in the water. It is uncertain how their issue will be ultimately resolved since the relevant authorities are pretending that there are no such issues outstanding in the first place.