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28.06.2003 Business & Finance

Pay back our 140 billion cedis, GCB workers demand

By gna
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Workers of the Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB) have asked for the refund of 140 billion cedis it paid to government in 1996 as valuation of the Bank's assets before divestiture.

The said payment according to the workers had not been provided for in the accounts of the Bank and was more than enough to help modernize and computerize all the Banks' 130 branches at that time.

Addressing a press conference in Accra on Friday to express GCB workers' view on the GCB's divestiture, Mr Daniel Antwi-Boasiako, Chairman of the Professional and Managerial Workers Union of the Bank, said they did not believe that the proceeds of the 1996 floatation exercise benefited the Bank.

Government intends to divest its 46.8 per cent holding in the Bank.

"What we know is that it went into government coffers and we believe that if we get back that money we could turn things around, thus making GCB move up some more on the ladder."

He said GCB had performed creditably over the years and had been making profits consistently since it was established and "we continue to perform better every year with our eye on our responsibility towards our nation".

Mr Antwi-Boasiako said GCB's profit before tax in 2002 was 281.908 billion cedis (33.7 million dollars), adding that after making a provision for national reconstruction levy and corporate tax it paid a dividend of 38.616 billion cedis (4.6 million dollars) to the government.

"It must be noted that such yearly dividend will be lost when government shares are sold to a strategic investor."

Mr Antwi-Boasiako said last year, GCB was the best performer on the Ghana Stock Exchange registering a total return of 153 per cent made up of 124 per cent in capital gains and 29 per cent on income yield.

He noted that with commendable performance on both the stock market and profitability, the Bank was able to pay a total dividend of 500 cedis per share totalling 82.50 billion cedis to shareholders.

"This dividend level represents 47.3 per cent of profit after tax in line with the Bank's dividend policy of a minimum of 30 per cent of profit after tax.

"Thus the Bank is helping immensely to promote the Ghana Stock Exchange, which has been set up to provide equity and long term financing for Ghanaian firms," he said.

Mr Antwi-Boasiako said GCB was doing well having been recognized both locally and internationally and won the Chartered Institute of Marketing awards and the prestigious Euro-Market Award in 1994, 1997 and 2000.

He said it was rather ironic for government to accuse GCB of creating bad debt for the nation when it stopped the closing down of 20 branches in 2001 after careful analysis by GCB and the Bank of Ghana proved that they were not profitable and must be closed down.

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