Monday, 17 June

Association of Bankers announces GHS3bn loan package for pharmaceutical firms

D K Mensah is the Executive Secretary of the Ghana Association of Bankers

The Ghana Association of Bankers has announced a GHS3-billion loan package for players in Ghana’s pharmaceutical industry.

It has also announced a reduction in its benchmark interest rate by 2 percentage points to reflect the Bank of Ghana’s policy rate cut of 150 basis points to 14.5%.

This is expected to lessen the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on retail and corporate clients.

In a statement, the Ghana Association of Bankers said: “Banks agree to a general 200 basis points interest rate cut on all existing local currency-denominated loans and for all new loans to be sanctioned by member banks.

“This rate cut shall cover not only the period of the pandemic but banks recognize that it will take businesses and individuals sometime after the end of the pandemic to retool and restock to achieve the semblance of normalcy – the rate cut will, therefore, cover the remaining tenor of the facility.”

It added: “Given the sanctity of customer/data privacy issues, banks have agreed to hold bi-lateral discussions with customers who have loan exposures with respective banks so a more tailor-made solution can be agreed with their bankers

“We advise customers to exercise restraint during this exercise as delays may be expected as banks will be using existing lean staff on roll to begin individual discussions on loan extensions, restructuring or other solutions respective banks will proffer to lessen the impact the virus may have caused,” the statement emphasised.

Continuing, the statement noted that “We have also decided to make the switch less painful and financially advantageous. Most fees on digital and other alternate banking channels have either been scrapped during this period or significantly reduced so that customers do not have to make financial decisions on whether to switch to an alternate platform or not.

The association urged customers to embrace digital banking to ease their transactions in these abnormal times.

Republic Bank and Fidelity Bank have since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic announced packages for its customers. These mainly are deferment of loan repayment for a period and reduction in interest rates.