Banks donate GH¢10 million towards COVID-19 fight
Mr Alhassan Andani — President, GAB
Banks operating in the country have donated a sum of GH¢10 million to support Ghana’s fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic since its outbreak in the country.
Also, an agreement has been arrived at on to a general 200 basis points (two percentage points) interest rate cut on all existing local currency-denominated loans and for all new loans to be authorized by member banks of the Ghana Association of Bankers (GAB).
The banks are to hold bilateral discussions on further pardons to customers operating in worst-affected industries or sectors.
Details of the statement
A statement signed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Association of Bankers (GAB), Mr Daniel Ato Kwamina Mensah and issued in Accra said, the measure formed part of additional interventions by the banks across the country to mitigate the financial impact of the coronavirus on the general public.
Breakdown of donation
According to the statement, the donation would go directly towards the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) to help manage the virus, support frontline medical staff in residence and also ease the burden and difficulties some vulnerable citizens have had to endure during the lockdown period.
Banks cut down the interest rate
The statement also focused on cutting down interest rate which would cover not only the period of the pandemic but will take some time for businesses and individuals to retool and restock to achieve the semblance of normalcy after the pandemic, hence the rate cut would cover the remaining tenor of the facility.
On the part of digital banking, it said banks in the country had already either reduced or removed charges completely on digital platforms.
Efforts have also been made to provide special loans for institutions, especially pharmaceutical companies to switch to the production of critical medical equipment.
“GAB is in the final stages of discussions with our regulator (the Bank of Ghana), the Finance Ministry and member banks to set up gross loans on preferential terms (details to be announced later) of up to GH¢3 billion to pharmaceutical companies that decide to switch production lines to enable them to focus attention on critical medical equipment or to enhance capacity of existing plants,” the statement added.
According to GAB, operators in the financial services industry would continue to monitor the impact of the coronavirus on global health systems, supply chains and the general way of life, particularly, the strain on health systems in the country.
“GAB recognises that unusual circumstances call for response in unusual manner and, therefore, fully associate and urge compliance with the guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation, the Ghana Health Service and the President to stem the spread trajectory of the virus,” it said.
The association also said its members recognised with concern the challenges some of the clients had to go through during the pandemic, saying:
“We note real challenges facing the airlines and general transportation businesses; hotels and other tourism-related businesses; importers/exporters and our clients who are the staff of these worst affected businesses”.
The statement said as the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, announced, as an essential service provider, banks viewed the call to duty as a service to the country in times of need.
“As has been witnessed elsewhere, sustained contraction should be avoided to lessen the pain of any consequential economic downturn and we are ready to play our part in that regard”, it said.
The statement added that during this period of medical crises with significant economic implications, the GAB would do whatever it could to make the transition as less painful as possible.
Ghana Association of Bankers
The Ghana Association of Bankers is the country's leading mouthpiece for the universal banking sector, currently representing the interests of 23 member banks in the country.
At its inception on May 29, 1980, there were seven universal banks that has existed at that period as against the current figure of 23 banks.
GAB supports and promotes policies and initiatives that balances both the interest of banks and the wider benefits of the public.