The mood among players in the very important universal indigenous banks in the country is that of apprehension and despondency.
These banks, critical as they are, find the 31st December 2018 timeline by which to comply with a GH¢400 million minimum capital requirement by the Bank of Ghana harsh.
We have learnt that they have forwarded a petition to the President pleading for an extension. Considering the shortness of the timeline and the drawbacks of the available options opened to them, we would endorse their extension request.
The spectre of harsh measures to be applied in the face of non-compliance could result in dire multifaceted circumstances on the economy.
We are not at all oblivious to the good reasons informing the decision of the apex bank; some of which saw a swift intervention in the management of a distressed local bank.
Given the reality of exchange rate depreciation, among other factors, the apex bank’s decision is not one to be bastardised. The period is what needs consideration lest the indigenous universal banks are suffocated to death – the attendant fallouts too glaring to be listed here.
The role of these banks in the nurturing of many a typical small business which can hardly meet the requirements of the big names in the banking industry cannot be overlooked.
The rising number of graduates in banking and finance not forgetting majors in Business Administration Accounting option, look up to the openings afforded by these banks which under the circumstances are under threat unless the extension they so desire is considered.
We have observed a five-time increase of the minimum capital requirement since 2001 and think that it is one too many. We must be quick to add however, that we are not questioning the wisdom in such actions but are only seeking the indulgence of the apex bank to consider their request for extension so they can prepare sufficiently for compliance.
The 1990s increase in the phenomenon of private participation in the banking industry is strategic and we ignore this sane development to our economic peril.
It would be in our interest to consider the national interest when applying the rod in such matters.
Much as a merger of the indigenous universal banks has been touted in some circles as a solution to the challenge, we doubt the suggestion can achieve the goal envisaged. The minimum capital requirement in question is beyond two banks and given the short timeframe, the possibility of foreign investors, already nosing around the industry, taking over these banks is beyond dispute.
We do not think that the apex bank wants to see a large chunk of our economic activities ceded to the foreign investors as this would not inure to the national interest. After all, the compliance directive is supposed to be protective of the national interest against possible challenges which can be injurious to the banking industry and the economy as a whole.
It has been established that ten or so indigenous banks will not be able to raise the estimated GH¢2.8billion in equity from the market within the timeframe under review. The flotation in that direction as a possible option will suffer a painful repercussion should the good counsel against this be ignored.
As for the publicly listed banks raising the additional capital from the local capital market, the emerging effect would be too bad to be imagined.
Considering the foregone, therefore, we ask that the apex bank takes another look at the timeline with a view to granting the affected banks an extension. This would be in the overall interest of the economy and for that matter, Ghana as a whole.
Source: Daily Guide