Ghana’s Minister of Trade and Industry Hannah Tetteh has said the 31 December 2009 deadline for foreign banks in the country to recapita l ise to the tune of US$60 million is not a punitive measure, as it has been interpreted in certain circles.
She told journalists here at the weekend that the measure was aimed at strengthe ning the banking sector, as the country prepares to be recognised as an oil producing nation by 2010.
”The new financial base is not a punitive measure but a step to ensure that the banks are fully prepared for what is to come. If they don’t have a settled financial system, it will be impossible for t hem to handle the businesses coming in,” she said.
There have been concerns, especially in Nigeria, that the directive could be tar geted at Nigerian banks, four of which have established their branches in Ghana, moreso as there is a disparity in the recap italisation deadline between local banks, which has up till 31 December 2010, and foreign banks.
But Mrs Tetteh said the disparity was to give indigenous banks the protection th ey required.
Commenting on the alleged maltreatment of Nigerian traders in Ghana, the Ministe r said it was because Ghanaians felt that the Nigerian government has not reciprocated the preferences given to Nigerian t raders in Ghana.
In particular, she said Nigeria had created restrictions for Ghanaian goods, des pite the ECOWAS trade liberalisation scheme.
“The reason we are getting this kind of reaction is because we have opened, asi de of trading, we have opened our economy to Nigerian businesses.
“At present, we have four Nigerian banks in Ghana, and we have Nigerian furnitu re manufacturing company in Ghana. The reason why there is this resentment…is because Ghanaians don’t find the same opportunities in N igeria,” she said.