Poor sanitation is desecrating Ghana’s image…

Each day, nearly 1,000 children die due to preventable water and sanitation-related diarrhoeal diseases. This one of the rationales for the United Nations adopting ‘water and sanitation for all’ as SDG goal six.

Last week Friday, at the official launch of the National Sanitation Campaign (NSC), it was revealed that poor sanitation and open defecation continues to rob the nation of US$369million annually.

The Coalition of NGOs in Water and sanitation (CONIWAS) indicated that apart from the loss of lives due to preventable diseases associated with poor sanitation and water, the amount represents a loss of foreign exchange which is realised through tourism and other profitable ventures.

The statistics are frightening: only 15 percent of Ghanaians have access to improved sanitation which includes improved toilet facilities; and around 19 percent of Ghanaians practice open defecation, while a whopping 60 percent share a latrine.

Thus, if we are really to realise SDG 6 then the country has a lot of work to do in this respect; and hopefully, the launch of NSC will lead us inexorably toward that path. Our citizens’ attitude has not helped much either.

22,000 tonnes of plastic waste is generated annually, while only 2 percent of this waste is recycled. Our drains and gutters are clogged with plastic waste – and this comes to bear when the rains come down heavily – flooding in many parts of the city then becomes apparent, with city officials running helter-skelter, looking for and trying to devise solutions.

The President launched the NSC recently, and inaugurated the NSC Brigade. Personnel of this outfit will conduct regular visits to all offices to ensure there is compliance, and where it so requires take legal action against those infringing the laws.

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In the President’s desire of make Accra one of the cleanest cities in Africa, a lot of work – which includes changing the attitudes of Ghanaians – needs to be done in this regard. As an official of CONIWAS noted during the launch, the poor sanitation situation in our country today has dented our self-esteem and dignity…and we need to restore it by adopting good sanitation practices, like not littering where one is not supposed to; and this attitude of using gutters as disposal sites must change for the better.

We need to rally behind the NSC and ensure that we are all good ambassadors of health and sanitation.

 

Capital requirement also encompasses Savings and Loans …

A former Governor of the Bank of Ghana, (BoG), Dr. Kofi Wampah, once observed that the formal banking system in developing economies such as ours tends to ignore the low end of the market, which it perceives as risky and unviable.

Since as much as 60 percent of the population is considered unbanked and hence not in the formal economy, deepening financial inclusion becomes imperative – and this regard, non-bank financial institutions play a critical role in bridging this gap, especially considering the importance of SMEs in any economy. Even as the central bank has taken steps to increase liquidity in the financial intermediation space, the non-bank financial sector is no exception. There is currently speculation Savings and Loans companies could see their stated capital increase in tandem with reforms in the banking sector as a whole.

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All this is to ensure that these financial institutions are adequately capitalised to undertake the various bank and non-bank activities they are engaged in respectively. In 2014, Savings and Loans companies saw their minimum capital increased to GH¢15million and speculation is rife that it will be increased further to between GH¢50-GH¢70million.

There has been no official communication to this effect, but shareholders in the industry are said to be locked in discussions to this end, which means the likelihood is great. In the scandals that engulfed some non-bank financial institutions like microfinance companies, little has been heard from Savings and Loans companies, which seems to mean they are more judicious in their dealings.

As the regulator, the BoG, must have done its research and investigations into the operations of non-bank financial institutions and come up with what is believed to be an acceptable threshold at which to peg the stated capital.

Thus, in this regard there is little we can advance since we believe stakeholder input was gauged before coming out with the new stated capital. It is rather important for the BoG to have a hold on activities in the banking landscape, so that scandals which occurred in the microfinance industry are averted and depositors’ money safeguarded.

We believe it is for the industry’s good, and all must endeavour to strive for a successful and well-capitalised industry. What is important is that customers’ deposits must not be unduly exposed to all manner of risks.

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