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22.08.2004 Business & Finance

UNICOF calls for a debate on Ghana Commercial Bank.

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Koforidua (ER), Aug. 22, GNA - The General Secretary of the Union of Industry, Commerce and Finance Workers (UNICOF), Mr Kofi Gavoh has called for an urgent debate on the future direction of the Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB).

He said such a debate should focus on whether GCB, should be sold for a purely profit-making motive at the expense of the larger socio-economic function the bank has been performing towards the national development effort.

Mr Gavor said much as banks and other financial institutions must make profit, "the ruthless pursuit of profit" should not override the need for such firms to shirk their social responsibilities towards communities they were created to service," whatever direction the GCB takes should embody both of these core values".

Addressing first quadrennial delegates conference of the Professional and Managerial Staff Union (PMSU) of the GCB, an affiliate of UNICOF at Koforidua on Saturday, Mr Gavoh declared that profit making and being socially responsible were not mutually exclusive. UNICOF was hitherto an affiliate of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union, which has recently served notice to severe its ties with the Trades Union Congress (TUC) following the decision of UNICOF to join the TUC.

According to Mr Gavoh, it should not be the policy of Boards of banks to compromise profit making motive of a few shareholders they represent and take decisions that go against the interest of majority of the people they serve.

He said whatever eventual decision is taken on the GCB should reflect the larger social, economic and political responsibilities that the bank owes to the people that it was established for.

Referring to the GCB specifically, Mr Gavoh said the bank has proved over the period of its existence that it does not only perform economic functions but also drives the whole gamut of social activities in the rural area and it would be wrong to sell it to a strategic investor for purely economic value.

He said much as UNICOF accepts that GCB should be restructured to enable it perform better, selling it to a strategic investor was not the most prudent option, since GCB was a national bank servicing all sectors of the economy.

The UNICOF General Secretary stated that, GCB still remained the best option in spearheading a rural economy and this fact should not be sacrificed for any other motive.

He however, called on the workers of the GCB to make it a goal of making the GCB a viable company.

The Deputy Secretary-General of the TUC in-charge of Operations, Mr Kofi Asamoah was emphatic that the economy needed GCB as an indigenous and strategic national bank.

He reiterated the TUC's call on government to retain its share in GCB and provide it with the necessary support for the bank to stand up to the challenges in a competitive banking environment.

Mr Asamoah also challenged the management and workers of the GCB to develop an effective policy on good corporate governance based on mainstream principles and success factors relevant to the objectives of the bank.

Speaking on the broad theme of the conference, "Good Corporate Governance", the acting Managing Director of the GCB, Mr Lawrence Newton Adu Mante, stressed the need for financial institutions to put in place, structures that would ensure that companies complied with all statutory and regulatory requirements.

He said although these principles were applicable in the banking industry, the industry required a more strategic approach in governance and more emphasis should be placed on these rules in view of the important and critical nature of the banking industry.

The Chairman of the PMSU, Mr Daniel Antwi-Bosiako noted with satisfaction that the unionisation of the senior staff of the GCB has led to a modest increase in the share price of the GCB contrary to the view held by management in its initial opposition to the move towards unionisation.

He called on members of the association to re-dedicate themselves to the ideals of the bank so as to make it the industrial leader.

A Member of the GCB Board, Dr E.N. Debrah gave the assurance of the board to modernize the bank to take it out of its woods but also demanded sincerity and honesty from the workers in the performance of their work.

Madam Helena Nkansah, Executive Head of Administration of the GCB who chaired the function said the recent events in the bank and the attendant public reaction made it imperative that all stakeholders of the GCB understood and appreciated their respective roles in the management of the bank.

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