After running a litmus test on the economy, Managing Director of multinational bank Alhassan Andani has expressed satisfaction.
The economic growth hovers above 6% and the top banks that control 80% of financing have not lost their grip in a reform that saw nine local banks closed in the last two years.
Since then, banks have begun lending more after an initial hold back during the 2017 and 2018 reforms, he also observed.
Sure, the collapse has had an impact on the government’s fiscal plans, he conceded. Some ¢12bn had to be raised by the government to plug the black hole left by the collapsed banks.
But. The growth of the economy is not matched by a growth in jobs.
“Jobs is still a big issue,” he said on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Monday and advised against treating it lightly. Creating jobs the public sector way has been loading 100,000 graduates on the public purse to work in schools, hospitals, revenue-collecting agencies.
And it is a stop-gap measure of three years. The released workers would have to find their way.
The MD indicated the government could be “running deficits” just to pay them. Andani who is also the President of Ghana Association of Banks acknowledged, the private sector is not creating jobs as many have come to label it as a critical solution.
“The private sector needs to expand quickly,” he said of an economy said to be growing faster in the world.
But this sector particularly, Small and Medium scale Enterprises, has complained about the lack of credit needed to expand and hire.
And that is where the bank MD Alhassan Andani comes in as an important stakeholder in helping to create jobs.
The banker admitted funding to SMEs are “probably not in the numbers and volumes required.”
But that is also because banks are careful about the books of SMEs and their ability to pay back promptly, protecting the bank from undue exposure. “It is all about prudence”, the man rated as an RSVP within Stanbic said.
Alhassan Andani is also convinced merely lending to SMEs won’t necessarily lead to a boom in job creation.
Yes, the private sector is the key to job creation. But within this sector, there are areas that hold the best promise of jobs, he explained.
“I rather we channel funding to SMEs to areas where jobs are created,” the 58-year old banker with 30 years experience in the industry told host of the show, Daniel Dadzie.
That area, he said, is agriculture. The man who holds a Bsc. in Agriculture wants an integrated agriculture sector lending programme where credit is pumped into financing not only growing crops but the entire value chain including processing and export.
Imagine the jobs this can create, he dreamed.