Business News of 2014-02-13

No turning back on new forex regime - Haruna insists

Minister of Trade and Industry Haruna Iddrisu says government and the central bank will not back down in their attempts to control the steep decline of the cedi despite concerns from businesses that the new forex measures are too harsh.
Addressing the leadership of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) in Accra yesterday, Mr. Iddrisu insisted that the cedi is the only medium of exchange and the use of foreign currencies in transactions will not be tolerated.
“The situation where every transaction is done in another currency is not acceptable for government, and we mean business in ‘de-dollarising’ the Ghanaian economy. I know the regulations have affected your business but government remains committed…” he said.
The cedi has fallen by 5.1 percent against the dollar this year, on top of 18 percent depreciation in 2013. The steep slide and the threat it poses to already stubborn inflation caused the central bank to raise its key lending rate from 16 percent to 18 percent last week.
The new regulations -- which among others outlaw transfers from one foreign exchange account to another and prohibit over-the-counter withdrawals of foreign currency except for travel purposes -- will reduce speculation and improve the availability of forex in the banking system, said Millison Narh, Deputy Governor of the BoG, who also addressed the business owners.
But the AGI leadership bemoaned the fact they were not consulted before the new measures were introduced. AGI’s president, James Asare-Adjei said the new regulations are a mark of betrayal if indeed the government considers the private sector as a strategic partner to development.