Business News of 2014-02-03

Diversify export base to support the Cedi - Andani

Mr Alhassan Andani, Managing Director of Stanbic Bank Ghana Limited, said the country must identify and focus on the production of additional export commodities to boost foreign exchange earnings to help stem the depreciation of the cedi against the dollar.

''We need to diversify the economy and focus on the production of more export commodities to rake in more foreign exchange,'' he said, adding that, a boost in cocoa production, non-traditional exports and oil production could help reverse the fall of the cedi.

The cedi has depreciated against the dollar about 24 per cent in 2013 and has since the beginning of the year been trending downwards.

Speaking to a cross section of journalists in Accra, Mr Andani said there is a positive economic outlook for 2014 and disagreed with people, who are predicting the country’s economic doom.

The Managing Director said the removal of subsidies and increase in some taxes would enable government to raise more revenue to meet its obligation and reduce borrowing to free up resources for the private sector.

He said government’s effort to address the budget deficit must be supported through prioritise spending to cut the budget deficit.

''Government should invest in areas that will bring in additional revenues,'' he said, and mentioned investments in the Takoradi and Tema ports and infrastructure development projects as key to meeting the resource generation goals of government..

On inflation, he said, the current rise was partly influenced by the hike in utility prices, predicting that the rate would begin to trend downwards after the effects had normalised by the end of the first quarter.

''We hold the view that inflation will be relatively high in the first quarter and improve in the second quarter,'' he said.

On Stanbic Ghana’s performance last year, Mr Andani said 2013 was a good year despite the slowdown in economic activities due to the election petition hearing.

He said the bank was able to increase its market share and made progress in the execution of its plans.

Mr Andani said in 2014, the bank would focus on supporting Small and Medium Enterprises, personal and business banking, to reach a lot more customers and also provide financial literacy services for the unbanked.

Mr Andani said there is also the plan to double the bank’s finance to the agriculture sector in 2014 from the current level of about GHc56 million.

''Stanbic Bank's wants to be part of government’s efforts to revamp agriculture, particularly the poultry industry,'' he said, adding that, the bank had invested in commercial maize and soya farming.

Source: GNA
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