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The Bank of Ghana (BoG) says it expects that all commercial banks will be able to meet the new minimum capital requirement of GHS400 million by the December 2018 deadline.
However, the central bank said it was ready to have discussions with the banks if they decided to engage in mergers or acquisitions to enable them to meet the new minimum capital.
Answering questions before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in Accra on Tuesday, the First Deputy Governor of the BoG, Dr Maxwell Opoku-Afari, said the central bank would not, however, entertain any disorderly consolidations.
He was at the PAC with other officials of the BoG to answer questions on the operations of the central bank as captured in the Auditor General's Report.
The Chairman of the PAC, Mr James Avedzi, wanted to know whether the BoG expected mergers, acquisitions or collapses in the banking industry, following the recent announcement to increase the minimum capital requirements for universal banks.
In response, Dr Opoku-Afari said: “Our expectation is that businesses that have been licensed to operate as banks will meet this minimum capital requirement to be able to position themselves to support the economic activities, the growth and the transformation agenda.
"If by doing that they see it as appropriate to talk among themselves to come up with measures for acquisition, that is also part of the process. What the BoG does not want is disorderly consolidations.”
He added that: "If the banks among themselves begin to talk and see that as the best way for them to meet the capitalisation, we are ready to have that discussion.”
The decision to increase the minimum capital requirement for commercial banks was taken after engagement with players in the banking industry.
The implication is that any bank that fails to meet the new capital requirement by December 2018 will lose its licence to operate.
Rationale for increase
Dr Opoku-Afari explained that the new bank capitalisation from GHS120 million to GH¢400 million was part of measures to support the economic vision and transformation agenda of the country.
"One of the reforms is to ensure that banks are adequately capitalised so that they will be able to support their activities in line with the exposures of the banks, the degree of sophistication and the degree of risk they are exposed to,” he said.
Registration of financial institutions
Dr Opoku-Afari said the central bank carried out due diligence on banks before granting them the licence to operate, adding that the banking sector regulator offered licence to only companies that had strategic activities and goals.
He indicated that the central bank, as a last resort, was strengthening its supervisory capacity and introducing monitoring requirements to ensure that only qualified financial institutions were given the licence to operate.
"We are enforcing prudential requirements to ensure that institutions licensed to undertake a specific business go by the specific business in the interest of the public,” he said.