Story: Atta Kwaku Boadi
Many Ghanaians contacted by the Today Newspaper unanimously agree that the regulator supported by the Akufo-Addo Administration must bring GN Bank back. For many of them the bank was the only one that catered for their needs including services that allowed them to travel without cash to market centres across the country. GN offered free life insurance to savings account customers and a high 9% on savings accounts. There are several towns like Tsito, Wulensi, Kwame Danso, Gwollu, Asebu, Hamile, Paga, Pusiga, and many others who are suffering due to the lack of a bank with a national spread.
A few days ago, the Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia attributed Ghana’s rising debt stock to the COVID-19 pandemic and the banking sector clean-up. Addressing a National Tertiary Students Confederacy (TESCON) Training and Orientation Conference at Kasoa in the Central Region, Dr. Bawumia said the country’s debt to GDP ratio had “increased by 17.6 percent” between 2019 and 2021. He said, “It should be noted that without the 15.1 billion of the exceptional items – the financial sector, and Covid, Ghana’s debt to GDP would have been about 68 percent instead of the current 80 percent,” the Economist said.
The former Rector of GIMPA, Prof. Stephen Adei said recently that “… using GHS21 billion to kill 9 banks partly responsible for Ghana’s economic crisis”. Some nine local banks, twenty-three savigs and loans companies, 347 micro finance institutions, thirty-nine finance houses and fifty-three fund management companies have been closed down by the current administration under the direction of the Minister of Finance Ken Ofori-Atta.
Many professionals, senior citizens, researchers and people from other walks of life have in recent time questioned why Ghanaian-owned banks were collapsed at great cost to the nation instead of being saved with a smaller amount of money. Archbishop Duncan Williams a couple of years ago, asked whether GN Bank, UniBank and others couldn’t have been saved.
In particular, GN Bank with around 300 branches in all 16 regions is one that many wonder the appropriateness of closing it down. A couple of months ago, Dr. Nii Moi Thompson, the former Director-General of the National Development & Planning Commission wrote, “The venturing of GN Bank into foreign markets, for example, could have helped offset the effect of the dollars repatriated by foreign banks in Ghana from their cedi profits.” Indeed GN Bank offered people in Ghana’s border towns the opportunity for seamless and cross-border banking that no other bank has been able to provide. It is interesting to note that whereas Nigerian banks have successfully crossed national borders, indigenous Ghanaian banks have found it difficult to do the same.