Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Anxiety grips ADB

(part 1)…No board for six months
There is growing nervousness among the staff of Agriculture Development Bank (ADB) as a result of the inability of Government to appoint a new Board of Directors for the bank, the Financial Intelligence (FI) can confidently reveal.This anxiety stems partly from the fact that workers believe, as a financial institution, the bank is losing out in the market as there has been no board in place for the last six months to endorse some major decisions concerning certain major transactions of the bank.Apart from the absence of the board which is said to be having negative effects on the bank, there is also an executive position in the Bank which became vacant in December 2008 but is yet to be filled.Alex Owusu-Ansah a Deputy Managing Director in charge of Credit and Banking retired in December 2008, but the vacant position has not been filled after six months, and this, insiders say is creating problems for decision making at the top.“We are a universal Banking Institution, but without a substantive board, how can we carry out any major transaction?” concerned workers told the FI.Sources close to management reveal that most transactions have come to a stand-still as there is no board to sit, and take decisions on Executive Committee recommendations, thus making the bank lose valued transactions to their competitors.“When work leaves Management and passes on to the Executive Committee, things get stalled at that stage since there is no board to consult”, the sources reveal.“We are losing out in the market and things are gradually grinding to a halt. Our fate is in the balance and there is no word from government as to when the board will be put in place”, concerned workers bewail.Meanwhile, speculations are rife in banking circles that government has a strong intention of either off-loading its shares in ADB to a strategic investor or merging it with the National Investment Bank (NIB) whose board is also contingent.While the intended merger with NIB is believed to be in line with government’s strategy of satisfying the new capital requirement set by the central bank for commercial banks, the alleged intended sale is being given various interpretations.Concerned staffs of ADB believe government is deliberately delaying the appointment of the new board in order to let things get out of hand so as to have a convenient excuse for the intended privatization of that institution whose fortunes are strategically linked with the development of the agriculture sector of the economy. It is believed that Standard Bank of South Africa and their Ghanaian branch Stanbic are still in the thick of the scheming that are said to be at the heart of Government.Earlier this year Standard Bank officials breathed into Ghana in much grandeur to announce their commitment of some 100 million dollars to the Alliance for Green Revolution, Africa: an agricultural initiative chaired by former UN Secretary General, Busumuru Kofi Anan, and a 25Million dollar facility for small scale farmers in Ghana.This was quickly interpreted by some watchers of the financial industry as the bank’s first bait for the new government, having failed to have their way with the previous one. As a matter of fact the next edition of the Business Guide, after that so-called donation, a weekly business newspaper in Ghana quoted officials of Stanbic as saying they were still interested in ADB, a publication which has not been denied by the South African Bank which has been spreading their tentacles in the world of Finance in recent times.In 2007 the then government was cited in a case of conflict of interest when they went sourcing for a $15 million facility from Stanbic to complete the Presidential Palace, while at the same time negotiating to off-load government’s 48% shares worth $215million for a paltry $ 80 million.In the mean time, close sources at the seat of government have told the FI that government is set to make a major economic policy statement which is expected to chart a new course for Ghana’s economic development.These sources say agriculture will be one of the key pillars in that policy statement and Vice President Mahama stated categorically that agric will be one of the major tools for job creation and many a youth would be supported to enter into agricultural production.It is therefore surprising the way government seems to be maneuvering at the same time to bring the nation’s number one agricultural funding institution to its knees, and finally off-load it to foreign interests.For more on this story book your copies of the FI in advance as we bring you the concluding part of this story which no other media house can give you for now.
Source:Financial Intelligence (Justice Lee Adoboe)

No comments: