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24.11.2003 Regional News

Rural banks make positive strides in socio-economic development

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Elmina, Nov. 23, GNA - The Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BOG), Dr. Paul Acquah, on Saturday said the systematic policy of the BOG to provide extensive technical and supervisory services to help rural banks improve their operations had yielded positive strides.

He said between July last year and June this year, rural banks in the country, had mobilised a total of 739 billion cedis in savings and current account deposits, whilst loans and overdrafts granted within the same period, came to the tune of 273.91 billion cedis.

Dr. Acquah announced this at the First Annual General Meeting of the Apex Bank of the Association of Rural Banks (ARB), at Elmina.

The Apex Bank, which began operation in the country in July last year, was set up to assist and supervise existing and new rural and community banks to develop into efficient, viable, sustainable and integrated financial systems through the pooling of their resources.

Dr Acquah said rural banks, have in this regard, extended the reach of financial intermediation to many people in various rural communities, by playing a major role in inculcating banking habits among the wider population. According to him, it was the expectation of the BOG, that the 115 rural and community banks would enhance micro-economic growth in their areas of operation to facilitate poverty reduction.

The BOG governor, described Apex banking as a novelty in Africa, and was enjoying international support from organisations like DANIDA, Cody Institute of Canada, the World Bank, European Union and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Among the successes of the ARB Apex Bank since its inception, he said, had been a 'pilot door-to-door special service to some rural and community banks, which would soon be extended to cover other regions, as well as the launching of an extensive computerisation programme to enhance rural banking operations.

Mr Emmanuel Asiedu-Mante, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Bank in a report, said the Bank, which began with an operating grant of 776.7 million cedis, had recorded a pre-tax profit of 3.8 billion cedis as at December last year.

He said total shares subscribed as at September this year, was 1.6 billion cedis, while its 'Apex link transfers,' a network to facilitate the movement of funds across the country, had yielded 9.9 billion cedis from 3,558 remitters within three months, from July to September this year.

Mr Asiedu-Mante announced that five branches would be opened in Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi, Sunyani and Bolgatanga within the next two years to enable them to deliver more effective services to the rural and community banks.

Training programmes would also be organised for staff of the rural and community banks, with plans to establish a training school in the near future, and appealed to the banks to continue to avail themselves to the opportunities offered by the Apex Bank.

Dr. Acquah later inaugurated a 13-member Board of Directors, whose members include Dr (Mrs) Gloria Nikoi, Mr Jacob Bruce Yirepong and Dr. Samuel Dufu, vice-president, secretary and president respectively of the ARB, to evolve more policies to strengthen the activities of rural and community banks.

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