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Opinions Sun, 20 Jan 2019

Crisis in Ghana's financial sector

2018 was a turbulent year in our financial sector.

While Menzgold seized the headlines, a lot happened with implications far beyond our banking and financial sectors.

Many banks have collapsed or been subsumed under others.

Monies given by the Bank of Ghana to help save struggling banks, like Capital Bank have disappeared under strange circumstances.

A new Consolidated Bank of Ghana has been established to assume the assets and to cater for a number of liquidated banks. A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), the Ghana Amalgamated Trust has been formed to help inject capital into our banking sector.

All these serious events have been livened by the names of important personalities and politics.

Kwabena Duffour, Nduom, Ken Ofori-Atta, NAM-1 etc.

Accusations and counter-accusations are flying.

There is debate about who caused NAM-1, whether some banks are being deliberately collapsed and whether the courts can be trusted to ensure the rule of law.

Menzgold started in 2014, under President Mahama but listening to the NDC, you would think, his organization was created by the NPP under its plans to revitalize the economy. Then the NPP has joined the pointless finger-pointing by blaming the NDC and calling NAM-1's victims greedy! When did the party of property owning democracy start disdaining good, old fashion greed in honest investors?

The bankers at the receiving end of the bank of Ghana's reorganization, with the NDC as their "amen-corner", have started claiming that all that is happening in banking, is the result of a sinister plot by the Finance Minister and his Databank minions to collapse indigenous banks affiliated with the NDC.

These accusations and counter-accusations are undermining public confidence, not just in our banking sector but in our institutions-- including, not just the Bank of Ghana and Finance Ministry but also in Parliament and our courts. There does not appear to be a unified, nationalistic voice from Parliament. Those aggrieved have no confidence in our courts and partisanship and rumours are in the driving seat.

Power, regardless of who has it, is temporary. It will change hands some day.

We must not permit the nurturing of grievances that will in future, rise to bedevil our politics and our society. There must be no partisanship in banking issues.

Let the leaders at the bank of Ghana and Finance Ministry increase transparency to lessen the suspicions. What are the conceptual and policy basis of the reforms?

Let Parliament stop retreating to their caucuses and deal with this as Ghana's united Parliament. What institutional failures caused this crisis? Are there national banking officials whose dereliction caused this? Why did the BOG keep exchanging polite letters with NAM-1 while he fleeced an ever-increasing clientele?

Why was Capital bank and others able to spend bail-out money with no oversight?

Let those aggrieved Directors do all of us and their shareholders a favour by going to court to vindicate their claims and let the courts give them transparent, common-sense justice.

Where are the law enforcement agencies who go after goat and cassava thieves with the full might of the law when corporate criminals are running rampant in our country, exploiting innocent citizens and mother Ghana?

Let our party leaders still their partisan voices and speak for Ghana and all of us.

And let the President bring us together and point us not to one side or the other but forward and upwards towards justice, accountability and integrity. It is the least we can ask of an incorruptible President-- as citizens!

God bless Ghana.

Columnist: Arthur Kobina Kennedy
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