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Seventh annual working luncheon of the Ghana Association of Bankers
Remarks by Dr. Paul A. Acquah, Governor of Bank of Ghana
Accra July 13, 2007

The Ghana Association of Bankers recently held their Seventh Annual Working Lunch in Accra. It is the first after the re-denomination exercise and it offered Dr Paul Acquah, Governor of the Bank of Ghana, the chance to alert all that it was time to put in place the 20 per cent penetration rate of the nation's payment and settlement system infrastructure. Ghanadot brings you the full text of the Governor's statement:

Honourable Minister of Finance and Economic Planning
Executives of the Ghana Association of Bankers
Colleagues from the Banking Industry
Distinguished Invited Guest
Members of the Press
Ladies and Gentlemen.

1. It has always been a pleasure to be here and I must say I have always been looking forward to this event. It is an opportunity to enjoy what always turns out to be an excellent cuisine. But surely it is not free lunch. The good thing is that we can also interact with colleagues in an environment relatively free of the bustle in our offices. I hope you can use this to your advantage by turning off your cellular phones.

2. You will agree with me that this meeting is in several ways very special. It is our first in this year of Golden Anniversary; It should be for us part of the Ghana@50 celebrations.

3. Let me use this opportunity to also note that, next month the Bank of Ghana will also be celebrating its Golden Jubilee Anniversary as a central bank, and we intend to mark the occasion with events befitting the status of the institution, and as integral part of the institution and economic history of the country.

4. For the banking community, this is indeed an extraordinary year marked by the re-denomination of the cedi, and all that it entails for the financial system. I understand everyone is carrying small wallets, spared with reported incidence of encashing loads of coins. The re-denomination establishes a note regime to facilitate rather than serve as a drag on economic activity.

5. Ladies and Gentlemen, the re-denomination exercise is part of the current policy focus to develop a domestic capital market underpinned by an efficient and safe payment and settlement system infrastructure and a financial system that is sound, robust, competitive, and resilient.

6. Currently, the penetration or access rate is just below 20 percent of economically active population. The existing payments channels are not well suited to attract the unbanked. There is therefore the need for a payment system that can be accessible to all regardless of financial status or geographical location. I am very sure the Minister of Finance will be touching on this issue in his address.

7. The next stage of the payment system reforms is to develop a payment system that can be accessible to all regardless of financial status or geographical location. The vision of extending access to the unbanked no matter their location must be pursued even more forcefully now with the renewed vitality in the banking industry. And we have the technology to do so. We can build the necessary state-of-the-art payments and settlement system infrastructure to pursue this goal.

8. As you are aware, we are setting up a Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement System (GIPSS) which will provide an electronic platform for integrating the unbanked in the domain of financial services. We expect to complete this system over the next six (6) months. It will network all the existing ATMs, POS and teller terminals owned by individual banks and all new ones connecting them directly by a common platform. It will have a biometric smartcard as a centerpiece that will open up access to financial services to all people irrespective of the level of education.

9. Ladies and Gentlemen, as has become customary, we have with us today the Honourable Minister of Finance and Economic Planning. He kindly accepted to be our guest speaker again this year. And we all look forward to what he has to say to us today.

10. On this note, let me once again congratulate you all for the effort and cooperation during the preparation and the roll out of the re-denomination exercise; and also to thank you for the excellent cuisine which has become an annual ritual I always look forward to.

Thank you.



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