When again, Mr Governor?

­­On July 15, top executives in the banking industry gathered at the plush Labadi Beach Hotel to wine and dine, chit-chat and celebrate, as well as pat themselves on the back for excelling in various aspects of the financial intermediation business.

From risk management to tellering, almost every department in the domestic banking sector was represented at the 2016 edition of the Ghana Banking Awards (GBA), with the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, Mr Jim Baiden, and the Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), Ernest Kwamina Yedu Addison, ceiling it off.

It was a night of glamour, as bankers escaped from their hectic schedules to celebrate hard work, excellence and innovation on a day that many in the field now look forward to with anxiety.

Started in 2010, the GBA, a creation of Corporate Initiative Ghana (CIG), has evolved into one glamorous event that assesses the strengths and capabilities of banks in the country.

As a result, many people, in and outside the banking sector, listen with rapt attention to the speeches because it is also typically an occasion for making major policy statements.

Apart from the annual bankers’ luncheon, organised by the Ghana Association of Bankers (GAB), the annual banking awards is the only event where almost all top representatives from the banking sector come under one roof once every year.    

This explains why organisers of the GAB mostly strive to have the Governor of the BoG, which regulates the operations of the banks, to be present at such an occasion.As a one-off meet-up in a year at an event meant to celebrate excellence and engineer innovation, it is mostly expected that the governor’s speech, which is the keynote address, will be weightier, meatier and laced with policy recommendations meant to spur growth, stir up competition and sustain the sanity in the sector.

Sadly, however, last Saturday’s speech by Dr Addison fell below that expectation, at least from the perspective of some attendees and of course, those of us here at the

Graphic Business.

With talk of some eight banks being under life support, the central bank gearing up to recapitalise banks later this year and a few banks already in merger talks, one would have expected Dr Addison to have seized that opportunity to comment on the issue.

Strangely, however, he did not. Instead, the governor chose to make repetitions on interoperability, digital addressing system (an issue that has been belaboured by the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia) and the need for banks to leverage technology.

While we are not belittling those issues, we are of the view that such issues had been overemphasised to the extent that they could have been the supporting comments and not the core part of the governor’s address on such a night where expectations were very high.

For us at the GRAPHIC BUSINESS, we believe that by choosing to skip the issues of recapitalisation, the need for bank consolidation and BoG’s plan for the eight banks under life support, Dr Addison has only pushed forward what he must comment on.

As the head of the institution regulating the banks, the governor will have to be more proactive on pertinent and critical issues that affect the industry.

By so doing, Dr Addison would be living up to expectations. Although the governor hardly speaks, his few comments carry weight and sets a national agenda for a longer time.

This, we believe, is the way to go for a man who meets virtually all his stakeholders only twice a year. — GB

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