Release of failed financial institutions’ locked up funds commences today  

Persons whose funds were locked up in the failed Savings and Loans companies and microfinance institutions will begin receiving their funds this week, President Nana Akufo-Addo announced last week Thursday when he delivered the State of the Nation Address (SONA).

President Akufo-Addo said some GH¢5billion has been made available for the Receiver to pay the customers from today (February, 24). It demonstrates government’s commitment to ensure that full payments are made to all customers of the collapsed financial institutions that was occasioned by the banking sector clean-up.

The president minced no words when he indicated the depositors will receive 100% of their deposits once the validation exercise is concluded.

The amount (GH¢5bn) represents an increase from GH¢2.4billion previously pledged for these lenders, and is in addition to GH¢13billion that was mainly issued through bonds to support the clients of nine first-tier banks which were liquidated in the industry clean-up.

The total cost of the overhaul now exceeds GH¢20billion after government also contributed GH¢800million toward the recapitalization of some lenders, and another GH¢1.5billion for investors in failed fund management companies.

Bloomberg notes that though the bailouts helped to stabilise the industry, it also added to Ghana’s debt that the International Monetary Fund estimated rose to 63% of gross domestic product by the end of 2019, from 59% the year before.

Given that the financial capacity of government is not too strong, one wonders where such monies will be raised from. However, a Deputy Finance Minister, Kwaku Kwarteng, says the ministry will devise means to settle such funds – and that is interesting since the president did not indicate where the funds would come from, and neither is there any budgetary allocation made in the 2020 budget statement.

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Our thinking is that we are in an election year and government is at pains to pay customers their locked up funds, otherwise it would be costly for the ruling party to retain the votes of depositors who were affected by the sweeping clean-up.

That notwithstanding, some customers whose monies have been locked up as a result of the collapse of some Savings and Loans companies and microfinance firms are not convinced that they will be given their monies.

Their apprehension stems from the fact that several assurances have failed to yield positive results, hence they are not inclined to believe this recent promise. Today is the D-day, hence we should get a clearer picture going forward.

Fight against illegal mining hasn’t waned despite shocking revelations   

President Akufo-Addo has said he will not renege on his commitment to fight illegal mining (galamsey) activities in the country in spite of allegations of bribery, corruption and conflict of interest against officials tasked to fight illegal mining.

Delivering his State of the Nation Address in Parliament last week, President Akufo-Addo acknowledged that the lure of gold will always push people to go to every length to resist the fight against illegal mining. However, its negative impact on the environment and future generations should inspire all to support the fight.

On the recent scandal of the missing excavators which were seized by Operations Vanguard, the task force put in place to tackle illegal mining, the president observed that the Police have made some arrests while investigations are still ongoing.

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He went on to assure Ghanaians that “no one involved would be shielded, no matter their positions in society or their political colours”.

The president stated that he is not against the idea of small-scale mining as a livelihood, but it has to be carried out with the requisite licences to operate and must be done in a manner that does not destroy the environment – particularly the country’s water-bodies.

To this end, government has trained 4,000 miners in sustainable mining and has additionally provided the miners with start-up tools and equipment. This is all well and good, since the idea behind the clamp-down is not to dispossess indigenes of their right to engage in commercial activities of their choice, but rather to ensure that such activities are not carried out without due concern for the environment and prospects of future generations.

Well, Ghanaians should be happy that the missing excavators are being investigated and that the culprits will be brought to book; because when the scandal broke out about how the fight is being misapplied, a lot of people lost faith in the campaign to rid the nation of illegal mining since those entrusted in waging the campaign were themselves accused of being neck-deep in the menace.

Now that the president has given assurance that all the culprits will be dealt with and that the campaign is still in focus, we have no choice but to exercise patience and await the investigation’s outcome.

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