Let’s Take Advantage of COVID-19 to Develop the Economy – FBNBank MD

Photo: Victor Yaw Asante, FBNBank Ghana Managing Director

The Managing Director of FBNBank, Victor Yaw Asante, has stated that although we would like to wish COVID-19 away, it however offers unique opportunities for the development of Ghana’s economy in the pandemic era which we must take advantage of.

Speaking at the maiden edition of the B&FT’s Money Summit last Tuesday, on the topic ‘The role of the financial sector in post-pandemic recovery’, Mr. Asante said: “Even though the COVID-19 pandemic would be wished away by all of us, given the opportunity, it has nevertheless provided a great opportunity to press the reset button and also introduce much needed change and development in many areas”.

Quoting former US Chief of Staff at the Obama White House, Rahm Emanuel, Mr. Asante stated that “you never let a serious crisis go to waste”. He added that the main role of the financial sector will be to set the pace for change and proper management of the pandemic situation and its aftermath. This includes introducing and fuelling the change management process as well as boosting the population’s confidence.

Explaining further, Mr. Asante spoke about the specific areas of opportunities for change and resetting the economy in a prevailing and post-pandemic recovery effort. These are fiscal, monetary, social and industrial. According to him, “In terms of the fiscal changes, we can take advantage of technology to widen the tax net to include areas like the informal sector. We need to work toward a reduction or elimination of tax holidays, tax exemptions and tax evasion”.

In the monetary space, Mr. Asante proposed that the central bank and other banks undertake development finance. He also added that banks in general, together with the regulator, must manage interest rates to enable strategic sectors of the economy – including small and medium enterprises (SMEs) – obtain credit for business.

According to Mr. Asante: “Socially; opportunities exist for the financial sector to undertake initiatives which would ultimately result in boosting the confidence of Ghanaians”. Moving Ghana faster to a ‘cash-lite’ economy with the introduction of easily accessible and acceptable digital financial services and payment systems, support for development of the health and education sectors, plus improved nationwide ICT infrastructure are some of the critical actions which can be undertaken.

Mr. Asante also mentioned that there are opportunities for the financial sector to actualise in order to drive the country’s industrial development. These include supporting the effort to move from ‘growers or providers’ of raw materials to an industrialised nation, in addition to aiding the introduction of commercial and mechanised agriculture. All these, according to him, “should provide the right impetus for Ghana to take full advantage of AfCFTA. With good planning, we can get many ‘off-takers’ for our finished products through AfCFTA”.

The Money Summit is a thought-leadership platform initiative introduced and driven by the Business & Financial Times. It is positioned as the foremost platform for discussing issues relating to Ghana’s financial sector. The maiden edition was held under the theme ‘The role of the financial sector in post-pandemic recovery’, on Tuesday 25 May 2021 at the Kempinski Hotel. Panellists for the two sessions were drawn from the C-suite of corporate institutions in the financial sector.

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