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17.08.2005 Business & Finance

Banks need to find innovative means to stay afloat - HFC Director


Accra, Aug. 17, GNA - Mr Asare Akuffo, Managing Director of HFC Bank Ghana Limited, on Wednesday said improved macro-economic conditions coupled with declining interest rates had made it necessary for banks to find innovative means to stay afloat.

Speaking on the "Ghana Stock Exchange Facts Behind the Figures Programme", he said the fall in Treasury Bills rates; lower secondary reserve requirements and cancellation of the mandatory investment in Ghana Government Index Linked Bonds (GGILBS) had put pressure on earnings in the industry.

In this connection, Mr Akuffo said, the HFC Bank needed to find innovative means through which to channel excess liquidity to the productive sectors of the economy to be able to stay on top of the competition.

"The impact on HFC Bank has been higher in view of our relatively high level of liquidity," he said. However, he added, the excess funds also meant that the banks could expand all aspects of their universal banking business in the future.

The Bank is, therefore, drawing up a five-year development plan to accelerate its growth in areas of investment; corporate lending, technology and deposit mobilisation to stand the stiff competition in the sector.

Touching on performance, Mr Akuffo said the Bank's deposit level currently stood at 214.2 billion cedis at the end of June 2005 compared to 107.9 billion cedis at the end of 2003 when operations started. The Bank has also lent 48.9 billion cedis to corporate customers. He said the Bank had achieved its business growth targets. However, a combination of reduction in yield on assets and increased operational expenses led to a reduction in earnings.

Mr Akuffo expressed the hope that the second half of the year would show positive results. The Managing Director of the Stock Exchange, Mr Kingsley Yamoah asked Ghanaian companies to take advantage of the Exchange to raise capital to expand their businesses.