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DDEP could significantly affect banks solvency and stability – Fitch Solutions

Fitch Ratings Agency International ratings firm, Fitch

Sun, 2 Apr 2023 Source:

The domestic debt restructuring programme has led to a significant fall in the capital levels of banks in Ghana and could threaten the solvency and stability of the sector, Fitch Solutions has warned.

It said: “Banks are entering this phase with a mixed capital picture, with some banks very close to the minimum regulatory capital level of 13.0%”.

Fitch Solutions also pointed out that capital buffers have fallen considerably in 2022, despite a sudden rise in December.

The fall, it noted, was largely driven by mark-to-market losses on investments and increases in risk-weighted assets of banks, due to the depreciation of the cedi and growth in loans and advances.

However, capital levels narrowly avoided falling below the minimum requirement in December 2023, likely as a result of banks retaining more of their earnings, in preparation for expected losses in profits and capital in 2023.

“The debt restructuring and fall in capital could lead to higher funding costs for banks if they become less creditworthy, and could significantly impact the banking sector’s solvency and stability”, Fitch Solutions warned.

As a consequence, it said banks would be more targeted in lending.

“Local banks will be more inclined to lend to industries with low non-performing loans (NPLs) ratios and positive outlook, especially since we expect to see a rise in NPLs in the coming quarters, given the challenging macro backdrop and slowdown in loan growth”.

“We think that the Mining & Quarrying sector stands out as it has a low NPL ratio of 4.0%, and as we forecast a positive outlook for gold mining in Ghana (which accounts for 95% of the country’s mineral revenue)”, it added.

On the other hand, it said nearly one-third of all construction loans are non-performing, which suggests that banks are unlikely to increase their exposure to this sector amid challenging economic conditions.

The warning by Fitch Solutions dovetails into similar sentiments expressed by the Bank of Ghana recently.

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