Nankese (E/R), Sept. 11, GNA- The establishment of the APEX Bank was one of the Bank of Ghana's commitment to pursue policies and programmes that would strengthen the rural banks to perform better. The First Deputy Governor of the Bank, Mr Emmanuel Asiedu Mante, who said this, explained that the APEX Bank was expected to exercise supervisory functions over rural banks.
He was speaking at the inauguration of the one billion-cedi head office building of the South Akim Rural Bank (SARB) at Nankese, near Suhum, on Friday.
While commending the bank for constructing the building from its resources, he said investment in fixed assets, if made under very sound financial conditions it ensured profitability, expansion and growth. Mr Asiedu Mante, however, cautioned that the eagerness for such investment should not necessarily result in the violation of capital adequacy and mandatory liquidity reserve ratios, because these investments are particularly expected to be financed out of reserves and not from deposits.
"It is, therefore, refreshing to note that in the construction of this new head office building, your bank observed judiciously all the necessary prudential requirements", he noted.
Mr Asiedu Mante reminded banks in the country that they had a shared responsibility to deepen and widen financial intermediation through introduction of appropriate innovative instruments and products to suit the needs of the public.
Even though profit motive must be of paramount importance to a bank to ensure survival and growth, it was equally important that the developmental and social needs of the economy in which it operates were addressed to stimulate job creation and create wealth, he said.
The Deputy Governor said the Bank of Ghana appreciated the efforts being made by rural banks in extending banking services to the remote communities and assisting them to increase productivity that would eventually translate into improved living conditions.
In this regard, he said "we further recognize the immense sacrifices made by the directors, management and staff to bring South Akim Rural Bank to its present state of fame."
The Eastern Regional Minister, Dr Francis Osafo-Mensah, who commended the for chalking successes since its formation 20 years ago, observed that with 23 billion cedis total deposit base with over 30,000 customers, it had "virtually become the leading Rural Bank in the Eastern Region."
He noted that the bank had worked conscientiously to transform the fortunes of the people in its catchment area by serving as a complementary institution committed to the translation of government policies on the "Golden Age of Business" to create wealth and reduce poverty.
Dr Osafo-Mensah said the bank had disbursed billions of cedis to individuals and groups under various programmes such the Poverty Alleviation, Social Investment and the Women in Development Funds. He assured the bank that in view of its remarkable performance, government, District Assemblies and international funding agencies would continue to channel more resources through it for the economic empowerment of the rural population in the area.
The Minister, however, advised management not to be complacent but continue to work hard and recover loans to defend the good image it had carved for itself.
In a welcoming address, chairman of the Board of Directors, Mr Maxwell N. Afrifa-Gyasi, said the bank which started with a staff of five now had 85, its deposit base stood at over 23 billion cedis, a capital base of four billion cedis and had equity capital of over 425 million cedis.
He said the bank had opened three agencies at Koforidua, Suhum and Asamankese, had profit of 1.6 billion cedis last year and earned 83,732 million cedis from the purchasing of 13.471 billion cedis worth of Akuafo Cheque for the 2003/2004 cocoa season.
Mr Afrifa-Gyasi paid tribute to the founding fathers of the bank and expressed appreciation to the staff, shareholders, the present and former directors of the bank for their selfless devotion to duty that had helped to bring the bank to its current status.
The Okyenhene Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, who chaired the function, asked the bank to let the acquisition of the new building serve as a hope for it and people in its catchment area for improvement in wealth creation and improved living standards.
While urging the bank to offer credit facilities to the people to enable them tap the enormous natural resources of the area, he stressed on the need for them to pay back loans on time to enable others to benefit.
Later, Osagyefuo Ofori Panin, assisted by the Regional Minister, unveiled a plaque and cut a tape to inaugurate the building.