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Surprisingly optimistic!
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Accra, Nov. 28, GNA - Mr Kwesi Amissah Arthur, Governor of the Bank of Ghana, on Saturday said the country's banking sector has significantly been transformed and continued to improve with new regulations and guidelines seeking to maintain stability.

"This has made the sector more efficient, innovative, competitive and profitable," he added. Mr Amissah Arthur made this known at this year's annual Bankers Dinner Dance dubbed: "Governors Day" in Accra.

He noted that the country had a fairly well diversified banking and financial system, with twenty-six banks in operation, half of which were foreign controlled with the rest in command of Ghanaians. He said the growth in total assets was driven largely by the relatively new banks in the system, but noted that assets concentration in few banks had continuously declined, reflecting the intense competitive environment under which they were operating.

Mr Amissah Arthur said the banking sector was growing at a fast pace alongside deepening financial intermediation, therefore, recomputed financial sector indicators using the rebased Gross Domestic Products figures, showed that there was substantial room for improvement. He observed that one of the critical issues that had proved rather challenging for the sector and the broader economy this year, had been high lending rates and its effect on access to credit. He said as part of restructuring the global planning, steps were being taken in a number of countries to limit bank from actively engaging in proprietary trading that was not instigated by clients, referred to as the "Volcker Rule".

"As the financial sector continues to grow in the country licensed universal banks have started to branch into areas such as providing bancassurance (a bank insurance model) service to engage in capital market activities. There is the need for effective collaboration between financial sector regulators, including the Central Bank, the National Insurance Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission among others," the Governor said.

He noted that with the growing number of regional banks in the domestic economy, cooperation with these regional supervisors in the exchange of information on cross border financial activities would enhance oversight responsibility in the sector.

To enhanced competition and efficient operation of the banking system, he encouraged the broadening of the ownership of the banks by encouraging the offloading of shares on the stock market. Mr Issac Owusu Hemeng, the immediate past president of the Chartered Institute of Bankers (CIB) Ghana, said the Institute had taken steps to obtain accreditation to enable it to run degree programme. He said the Institute had initiated a five-year strategic plan that sought to achieve the goal and to facilitate the process of reviewing the existing CIB, Ghana constitution and by-laws.

He said the Institute had introduced a compulsory continually Professional Development programmes to provide members the chance to develop and upgrade their professional knowledge and skills in the sector. Mr Eric Osei-Bonsu, Managing Director of the ARB Apex Bank was elected the new president of the Institute with effect from January 2011. He replaces Mr Issac Owusu Hemeng. Mr Osei-Bonsu is a practising Professional Banker and Accountant with thirty years international and local working experience. He is a Chartered Banker and fellow of both the Chartered Institute of Bankers UK and Ghana.
Getting the banking sector up to international standard will do much to facilitate investment in Ghana, this is long overdue.
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