Business News of 2013-12-31

Rural banks advised to help address poverty

The Deputy Northern Regional Minister, Alhaji A.B.A Fuseini, has appealed to rural and community banks to look beyond profits and help to address developmental problems in their operational areas.

“I must commend rural and community banks for their immense contribution in helping to build the nation and I must also take this opportunity to appeal to you to look beyond profit making and help address chronic poverty in your operational areas,” he said.

Alhaji Fuseini made the appeal in Kumbungu at the weekend during the eighth annual general meeting of the Bonzali Rural Bank Limited, where shareholders and management met to discuss successes chalked up the previous year and to find ways to address its challenges.

He said women were very industrious and helped in the fight against poverty, diseases and ignorance and urged the bank to identify hardworking and business-minded women and establish them by giving them soft loans.

“If rural and community banks make a lot of profit but people within their operational areas are wallowing in poverty, then they are not serving the purpose that necessitated their establishment,” he said.

Alhaji Fuseini commended the Bonzali Rural Bank for extending its services to areas where traditional banks were not venturing: “I am reliably informed that your bank inaugurated a branch in Karaga this year as well as launched products and services including microfinance, which currently can boast about 70 women beneficiaries.”

He called on the board to consider more humane and relaxed conditions in dealing with the most vulnerable and the poor.

The deputy northern regional minister said the bank must also help the region to make judicious use of proceeds from the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) which was the new development vehicle envisioned to close the north-south development gap.

The Board Chairman of the bank, Alhaji Mahdi Abdulai, gave an overview of the bank’s performance, and said though it faced stiff competition with the introduction of major banks into the Tamale metropolis, it performed creditably.

He said the ARB Apex Bank had rated the Bonzali Rural Bank as one of the leading banks in the three northern regions and also rated it among the most satisfactory 50 banks out of 137 across the country.

The bank recorded profit after tax of GH¢360,093 in 2013, representing 131.03 per cent increase over the 2011 figure of GH¢155,856, while total assets grew from GH¢9.3 million 2011 to GH¢14.25 million in 2012, an increase of 53.60 per cent, the board chairman announced.

Deposits, as of the end of 2012, were GH¢9.08 million, representing 57.23 per cent over the GH¢5.78 million recorded in 2011, while share capital stood at GH¢191,715.

He, however, expressed concern about delays in repayment of loans and appealed to debtors to fulfil their part of the bargain with prompt repayments.

Alhaji Abdulai announced plans for the bank to open agencies in Saboba, Chereponi, Kukuo, Sakasaka and Sangnarigu in the Tamale metropolis for enhanced operations.

The Managing Director of the ARB Apex Bank, Mr Kwadwo Aye Kusi, in a speech read for him, commended the Bonzali Rural Bank for the giant strides it made in the year and advised management not to relax in its efforts at improving service delivery