Kumasi — The Asnatehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu has entreated Banks to introduce more innovative and business-friendly services to address the issue of high cost of credit. The eminent chief has also advised the universal banks to follow the lead by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) in lowering interest rates.
In a speech read for him at the 9th Ashanti Business Excellence Awards organized under the Auspices of Manhyia Palace in Kumasi recently, Otumfuo Osei Tutu commended the government for bringing to fruition the transformation of the Export Development and Investment Fund into an Export Development, Investment and Agricultural Fund, which move, he said, will enable the agricultural sector access to credit from the Fund and urged farmers and other agricultural sector operators in Ashanti, to take advantage of the golden opportunity.
Otumfuo lamented that it is a matter of regret that the average Ghanaian is not imbued with a culture of insurance and risk management, both at the enterprise and personal levels. "We do not take insurance seriously, until we are in trouble."
According to him, there has been a dramatic improvement, both quantitatively and qualitatively, in financial services landscape in Ashanti Region, since the Ashanti Financial Services Excellence Awards Scheme was established in 2004.
The components of this improvement have included the entry of new banks, and opening of new suburban branches by existing banks, the extension of week-day banking hours, the introduction of Saturday banking, the expansion of ATM services and the introduction of several innovative and customer-friendly products.
He argued that despite these positive developments, access to credit and the Cost of Credit continue to be at the top of the challenges encountered by the Ghanaian business community, with which the business community access loans, especially long term funds, for their operations.
Otumfuo, therefore, urged Government to ensure that proceeds from oil exploration are applied with prudence, devoid of unethical practices.
He advised the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take pro-active measures to safeguard the environment in the oil producing areas, and to ensure that the environment is not degraded as a consequence of the oil exploration.
With regard to indigenous capacity building he appealed to high educational institutions, including the Polytechnics, to design and introduce courses which would position Ghanaian engineers, technicians and management personnel to competently manage the oil industry.
"As chancellor of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), I am giving maximum encouragement to the Vice-Chancellor and the University authorities to play a leading role in responding to this capacity building challenge, by offering petroleum-rated programmes at both the graduate and post-graduate levels", he said
He was impressed by steps by the National Insurance Commission to ensure compliance with the Insurance Act of 2006, which requires all private commercial buildings to be insured against various risks, including fire.
The King, accordingly entreated owners of business premises in their own interests and in the interest of their business tenants, to comply with the provisions of the Insurance Act.
He expresses his satisfaction at the measures the government has taken in recent times to resource the Ghana National Fire Service to respond in a professional manner to the challenges facing the Service.