Graphic Business News

Churches, Universities have millions stacked in financial sector- GH¢640m locked up in just one firm

By: Emmanuel Bruce
Isaac Adongo

SOME churches, public universities and government agencies are struggling to access huge sums of money they invested in some banks and investment companies in the country, the Member of Parliament of Bolgatanga Central, Isaac Adongo, has disclosed.

He said that was due to the recent clean-up in the banking sector which had created more challenges in the country’s financial sector.

He said he was reliably informed that those institutions had a total of over of GH¢640 million in just one financial institution.

Mr Adongo, however, refused to mention the name of the financial institution for fear of a run on the company.

Speaking at a forum to assess the financial sector reforms and its impact on Ghanaians, the law maker said “information available to me indicate that a total of about GH¢640 million, being money belonging to the University of Cape Coast, the Forestry Commission and other state agencies are currently locked up in just one financial institution. I am also aware that a private university, whose account was with one of the private universities, has used more than one year trying without success to access money that belongs to the school. This has deepened the financial woes of that school and hung the education of the thousands of students and the jobs of hundreds in the balance,” he stated.

He said the challenges arising from the financial sector clean-up were not limited to businesses, state agencies and firms in the education sector alone but extended to faith-based organisations whose money was also locked up in collapsed or liquidity starved financial institutions across the country.

“I can confidently confirm that the Catholic Church, which is the biggest single religious institution in the country, has difficulty accessing a chunk of its funds that have been locked up in banks and other financial institutions nationwide. The church is not alone as other religious institutions also suffer similar if not worse predicaments, he noted.

Economy starved of funds
Mr Adongo also stated that the self-centred exercise disguised as a financial sector clean-up had starved the country’s economy of funds for more than two and half years.

He said the private sector, which survived on credit, had been the biggest sufferer in this regard, resulting in marginalised growth in companies and the economy at large.

“The current predicament of Unilever Ghana, the biggest fast moving consumer goods manufacturer in the country, exemplifies this better. News broke recently that the firm was bracing itself for “considerable lower than planned” growth in 2019.

He said that slow turnover was not limited to only Unilever but was a general problem that almost all firms in other sectors of the economy had to endure.

Scaling back on operations

Mr Adongo also noted that due to the challenges, most private sector firms were now scaling back on their operations as others struggled to generate income to refinance facilities they took.

“The result is that few or no new loan requests are made, prompting the Governor to go on a begging spree in an attempt to get banks to lend. But who begs banks to lend money? As profit-minded agents of economic growth, one does not need to tell banks to give out loans. Whenever there are serious bankable projects in place, banks have often funded them to help create assets and generate income, but bogged by a high non-performing loan book and a depressed private sector, banks are extremely cautious in how they create new loans in other not to fall victims to the more strenuous write-off requirements.

“So, if the Governor believes that the clean-up exercise has provided a pool of resources to banks and created a better condition for the operators, why are the banks not lending and that has forced him to beg them to do so? he asked.

Micro banking

Mr Adongo said the clean-up had also killed the concept of micro-banking, which was beginning to catch fire in Ghana.

"Market women and ordinary citizens who were depositing and accessing smaller amounts with lower tiered financial institutions are now unable to easily access their funds. As a result, most of these people in the hinterlands do not want to see ‘susu’ collectors, credit union persons and people originating from financial institutions for the exercise has left a bitter taste in their tongues. Having also endured a lot of abuse from frustrated customers, virtually all persons are now running away from doing micro banking,” he said.