Sunyani, Sept 24, GNA - Dr (Mrs) Gloria Nikoi, Board Chairman of the ARB Apex Bank, on Friday said it was imperative for rural banks to implement policies that would lead to growth and help reduce poverty. She said at the commissioning of the Sunyani office of ARB Apex Bank Limited that the macro-economic situation in the country had been fairly stable for the past few years and rural banks had a strong role to play in this endeavour.
Dr Nikoi noted that poverty was a predominantly rural phenomenon and was prevalent among food farmers but expressed regret that a low 0.3 percent bank credit went to non-cocoa, agriculture operators last year. "The challenge for the Apex Bank, then, is for Apex Bank to continue to evolve appropriate and relevant products and policies that relate to the needs of the rural population and promote growth for implementation by rural banks".
Dr (Mrs) Nikoi said the Sunyani branch office was the fourth regional branch of the ARB APEX Bank to be opened after Takoradi, Bolgatanga and Kumasi that were all commissioned this year.
She noted that the 19 rural banks in Brong-Ahafo with 66 agencies mobilized total deposits of 150.81 billion cedis, with total assets of 205.7 billion cedis.
"Total investments were 63.8 billion cedis, total advances, 83.1 billion cedis, while profit before tax amounted to 1.8 million cedis and net worth of 24.9 billion cedis, while paid up capital was 3.2 million cedis.
Dr (Mrs) Nikoi thanked the traditional authorities in the region for releasing 58.2 acres of land at Nsoatre for the establishment of a rural banking training school.
Mr Emmanuel Kwasi Kwapong, the Managing Director of ARB Apex Bank, thanked the government, World Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), for providing funds through the Rural Financial Services Project (RFSP) for the refurbishment of the branch office.
He said in view of its strategic position, the Sunyani branch office would serve a network of rural banks in Brong-Ahafo and the northern part of the Western Region.
Nana Kwadwo Seinti, Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister expressed dissatisfaction that cocoa farmers did not adequately benefit from the bank's rural investment policy during the year under review. He said it was the expectation of both customers and non- customers in rural communities to have an enhanced economic development.
"If therefore our community dwellers are not fully benefiting from these banks under their very noses, then it would be better such rural banks changed their names from "Rural" or "Community". The Regional Minister urged the boards and management of rural banks to revisit their policies regarding micro facilities so that majority of people in rural areas benefit from their operations. 24 Sept 05