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Business News Tue, 13 Nov 2007

Political will necessary for Financial Integration

Accra, Nov. 13, GNA - Unless governments in West Africa exercise the political will, efforts to integrate the financial sector in the sub-region will come to nought, Financial Experts said on Tuesday. A cross-section of the experts from across banks in the sub-region, who are attending a two-day meeting in Accra to map out strategies to enhance rapid integration of the financial sector, said a first step was for the governments to bury their sentiments about sovereignty and act for the collective good of the citizens in the region.

They held that wide and deep monetary and financial integration would work when governments take concrete steps to implement regulations and political decisions that were supportive of the integration process. "Indeed, governments regulations and laws might be seen to be working in tandem with the commitments that they make in various regional fora," Mr Rasheed Olaoluwa, Regional Chief Executive Officer, West and Central Africa United Bank for Africa, told the Ghana News Agency.

Mr Olaoluwa said the expansion of the financial sector in the sub-region would hinge on a good harmonized regulatory environment backed by the appropriate legislation.

He said it was necessary the countries work towards a regional licensing regime for banks as well as a settlement arrangement to ensure quick and easy transactions.

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There must also be in place a comprehensive identification system to ensure that banks within the sub-region could share credit information on clients to cut down on the default rate.

Mr Sal Amegavie, Chief Executive of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who spoke on the role of banks on fight against poverty, urged the banks to target both the urban poor and rural poverty with specially designed services through setting up micro-credit subsidiaries or divisions to pick up entrepreneurial talents for development in their communities.

Mr Daniel Mensah, Executive Secretary of the Ghana Association of Bankers, said the workshop aimed at assessing the degree of integration of the financial sector in the sub-region, identify the factors impeding such integration and come out with plans to advance the course. He said the ECOWAS countries were ready to remove any barriers so that financial services could be provided and capital circulated freely throughout the region at the lowest cost. The two-day workshop was organised by the ACP Business Climate Facility (BizClim, an ACP-EU joint initiative funded by the European Development Fund), the Ghana Association of Bankers and West African Bankers Association.

Source: GNA
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