Akim New Tafo, (E/R) Sept. 18, GNA - The ARB Apex Bank has asked Rural Banks to strengthen their internal control mechanisms to minimize the incidence of fraud and risk with the view to ensuring efficient operations to attain the objectives for which the banks were established.
They have also been reminded that even though profitability was their prime motive, it was equally important for them to set aside part of their profits to meet their social responsibility within the area in which they operate.
The Managing Director of the ARB Apex Bank, Mr Emmanuel K. Kwapong, made the calls in a speech read for him by the Head of Inspection and Audit Department, Mr Hyginus S. Zon, at the 7th Annual General Meeting of the Adonten Community Bank at Akim New Tafo on Saturday.
He announced that the Apex Bank had set up an Efficiency Monitoring Unit (EMU) with the support of the Rural Enterprise Project (REP), to collate and analyse prudential returns from the rural and community banks to enable the Unit to identify early warning signals to re-engineer the business processes of the banks.
Mr. Kwapong further announced that the Apex Bank had, since June, this year, opened branches at Takoradi, Bolgatanga, Kumasi as part of an on-going expansion programme and asked rural and community banks to take advantage of this to network with it to avail themselves of its varied banking services.
He said as part of its national computerization programme, four rural banks had been fully computerized while its Training Department was to train all the staff of the rural and community banks.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Adonten Community Bank, Osabarima Kena Ampaw II, in his report, said the bank, in spite of the drastic drop in Treasury Bills interest rates, had through management, recorded a modest profit margin of 443.98 million cedis last year.
He said the bank increased its total gross credits and loans portfolio by 82 per cent from 2.03 billion in 2003 to 3.49 billion cedis, explaining that this was due to the increase in the growth in funds mobilization from the "Susu" product. Another 282 million cedis, he said, representing funds from the East Akim District's Common Fund and a Japanese grant for farmers was disbursed to customers of the bank.
On investment, Osabarima Kena Ampaw said the bank increased its short term investments by 37 per cent from 3.41 billion cedis to 4.68 billion cedis, while shareholders funds increased from 1,093 billion cedis to 1,644 billion cedis during the period.
Of the total deposits of 8.264 billion cedis recorded during the period, he said the three agencies of the bank at Anyinam, Koforidua and Kukurantumi mobilized 4.04 million cedis.
Among other activities of the bank, the Board Chairman mentioned that 30 per cent of its credit facilities went to women groups in agriculture and cottage industries but regretted that loan recovery from them was not encouraging.
He announced that plans were afoot to grant scholarships to needy but brilliant Junior Secondary School leavers for further education, while the bank donated 8 million cedis into the recently launched Adonten Educational Fund.
The meeting unanimously voted to retain all the six board members, including Osabairma Kena Ampaw, Dr Edward Owusu-Manu, Mr. Grant Ohemeng Kesse, Dr Kwesi Ofori-Frimpong, Mr Philip Maxwell Boakye, Mr Maxwell Baah Twum-Antwi and Nana Oppong Kyeremateng. Sept, 18, 05