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24.09.2005 General News

Govt commited to speed up growth -Minsiter

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Sunyani, Sept 24, GNA - Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, on Saturday said reaffirmed the government's commitment to the country achieving accelerated growth and development.

In an address read for him at the third annual general meeting of ARB APEX Bank, the Minister however stressed that the aspiration of the government could not be achieved without the active participation and collaboration of both the public and private sectors. "In this regard, the government proposes policy changes that will create an enabling environment for effective private sector-led growth.".

Mr Baah-Wiredu said steps were being taken in the area of micro and macro stability, creation of new institutions and re-structuring of existing ones to make them more viable.

He urged banks to adopt and pursue measures and programmes that would promote economic growth, wealth creation and sustained poverty reduction as enshrined in the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) document.

"In this vein, the private sector, which is to lead the growth process, must be supported by the banks", the Finance Minister added.

Mr Baah-Wiredu said good customer care was essential to effective financial intermediation, especially as regards people in the rural areas - a major constituency of rural and community banks. The minister said the challenges facing small and micro financing as a tool for wealth creation and poverty reduction encompassed economic, social, political and institutional factors.

Dr (Mrs) Gloria Nikoi, chairman of the ARB Apex Bank, said total assets amounted to 252.948 billion cedis as against 144.722 billion cedis in 2003, an increase of 74.8 percent.

Mrs (Dr) Nikoi said the total income rose from 32.274 billion cedis in 2003 to 37.639 billion cedis in 2004, an increase of 16.6 percent, total deposits recorded was 187.465 billion cedis as against 96.627 billion cedis in 2003, an increase of 94.0 percent.

She said five percent reserve placement by Rural and Community banks was 60.496 billion cedis as against 36.545 billion in 2003 an increase of 65.5 percent, stakeholders' funds were 52.002 billion cedis as compared with 31.679 billion cedis in 2003, an increase of 64.2 percent.

The board chairman expressed satisfaction with the "impressive results by any standard" but noted the decrease in profit by 28.9 per cent from 18.297 billion cedis in 2003 to 12,995 billion cedis. Mr Emmanuel Asiedu-Mante, First Deputy Governor of Bank of Ghana, said there was still a lot to be done as most Ghanaians lived in poverty.

"The private sector, particularly the banks, have a significant role to play by making their services and products more responsive and relevant to the needs of the people," he said. 24 Sept 05