Business News of 2014-08-22

Bank of Ghana trades oil funds in outdated fashion

In an age of real-time investment funds management, the Bank of Ghana (BoG) has been executing trades from the Heritage and Stabilisation Funds manually – all for the want of $200,000 software, the B&FT has learned.
"Our greatest challenge is with the systems. We do not really have systems we use in trading and in generating reports. So these are done manually", Richard Assan of the Petroleum Funds Secretariat at BoG told the BFT on the sidelines of a forum on accountability reports in the Petroleum Revenue Management Act.
“For instance, with the investment there are systems: you trade and it goes all the way to settlement. But because we do not have this presently we do it manually. It is time- consuming and creates room for errors. This really limits our ability to perform our role effectively,” he said.
According to the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, the Heritage and Stabilisation Funds -- together known as the Ghana Petroleum Funds - must be invested abroad; and the Bank of Ghana is responsible for their day-to-day “operational management”.
The funds are thus held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in a bid to take advantage of investment opportunities in the US market.
“These investments are very time-sensitive - in that on the spur of the moment you can have prices changing, whether in your favour or against you. You have to act swiftly. But because everything is done manually you have to sometimes phone your counterparty, send emails; they are not instant, by which time you would have lost an opportunity. That is a very big challenge,” Mr. Assan said.
The BoG, he said, has contacted various financial software manufacturers like MISys and Bloomberg, and when funds become available it will place an order for the systems.
The trading systems have become standard practice with investment managers across the globe, making their work easier.
Government has allocated US$617.5million to the Petroleum Funds since the start of oil production in December 2011. Eighteen percent of the amount, or US$438.6million, was paid into the Stabilisation Fund and $178.9 million into the Heritage Fund.
The Stabilisation Fund, which was capped at $250 million this year and $176.5 million withdrawn from it to pay public debt obligations, has so far returned a 0.6 percent yield. The Fund's book value at the end of June was US$264.7million.
The Heritage Fund on the other hand has posted a yield of 1.2'percent since inception, while its book value was almost $181 million at the end of June.
Source: B&FT
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