Banks, following the domestic debt exchange programme, have recorded huge losses in the first quarter of the year.
According to Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Association of Banks, John Awuah, while the banks had anticipated such significant losses, they had taken a strategic position by agreeing to the DDEP.
Describing the process of signing onto the programme as a very difficult decision for banks, he noted that should the banks have refused the economy would have tanked and the banks would have collapsed with it.
“So it’s not child’s play. It’s been a very difficult decision. But the banks took a strategic position. While of course there were hullabaloos here and there, we took a position that as a financial system, certainty and some form of stability was extremely important. Are we going to sacrifice stability on the altar of pushing and pushing and pushing and to get what?
“And if you get to that level where you’ve pushed, and you’ve pushed the date from December to January to February to March to April, and the economy is tanking and tanking and tanking, you know, you operate within the economy and if the uncertainty results in significant disruption in economic performance, of course then you’ll be holding instruments that you’ll call bonds, but will be more or less worthless,” he said on JoyNews’ PM Express Business Edition.
John Awuah noted that to avert the collapse of the economy and the banks with it, by signing onto the DDEP, the banks were being part of the solution to the economic problem.
“That is why we took the position as an industry that we want to be part of the solution and therefore, how do we work with the managers of the economy in a manner that whilst its unpalatable, we can also put in some form of protective mechanisms for the bondholders and also fight for a deal that works for the industry.
“So you can see that clearly from the first exchange memorandum document to the third one, it’s almost a complete departure; from four bonds to 12 bonds, from zero coupons all the way to one coupon rate,” he said.
Meanwhile, he has rubbished claims that the banks were coerced by state regulators and the government to sign onto the DDEP.
“I think that point must be made very clear; that the banks are very autonomous, even the association cannot compel any bank to take a decision as to whether to accept or not to accept.”
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