Banks to reduce interest rates by 2% effective April 1

Commercial banks in the country are expected to reduce interest rates by two per cent effective April 1, 2020, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said.

Delivering his fourth national televised address Friday on the coronavirus pandemic, President Akufo-Addo said: “We are providing additional relief, such as the extension of the tax filing date from April to June; a two per cent (2%) reduction of interest rates by banks, effective 1st April 2020; the granting by the banks of a six (6) month moratorium of principal repayments to entities in the airline and hospitality industries, i.e. hotels, restaurants, car rentals, food vendors, taxis, and uber operators.”

He added, “All other sector credit exposures will be reviewed on a case by case basis; mobile money users can send up to one hundred cedis (GH¢100) for free, and a one hundred per cent (100%) to three hundred per cent (300%) increase in the daily transaction limits for mobile money transactions.”

Lockdown

The President said movements in some urban areas in the country will be restricted from Monday for two weeks as part of government measures to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The lockdown affects areas in Accra, Tema, Kasoa and Kumasi, where significant numbers of infections have been recorded.

He said beginning from 1:00 a.m. on Monday, March 30, the lockdown will restrict the movement of people for two weeks subject to review.

GDP growth

The Bank of Ghana (BoG) says it fears the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) will collapse growth in the economy to 2.5 per cent in 2020.

The BoG said the 2.5 per cent growth rate would be a “worst-case scenario” impact from the challenges of the disease on the local economy.

In a statement issued last Wednesday, March 18 2020, the BoG said “GDP growth is forecasted to decline to 5.0 per cent in a baseline scenario. In the worst-case scenario, GDP growth estimates could be halved to about 2.5 per cent in 2020. These assessments are preliminary as the situation is very fluid and the degree of uncertainty concerning the outbreak is very high.”

According to the BoG, “These assessments are preliminary as the situation is very fluid and the degree of uncertainty concerning the outbreak is very high. This means that there is a likelihood that these assessments could change rapidly.”

Additional measures by the BoG

In addition, the following raft of measures to contain the impact of the COVID-19 on the Ghanaian economy will be implemented.

  • The Primary Reserve Requirement has been reduced from 10 per cent to 8 per cent to provide more liquidity to banks to support critical sectors of the economy. This effectively extends the previous targeted reserves for SMEs under the enterprise credit scheme to all critical sectors.
  • The Capital Conservation Buffer (CCB) for banks of 3.0 per cent is reduced to 1.5 per cent. This is to enable banks to provide the needed financial support to the economy. This effectively reduces the Capital Adequacy Requirement from 13 per cent to 11.5 per cent.
  • Provisioning for Loans in the “Other Loans Especially Mentioned” (OLEM) category is reduced from 10 per cent to 5 per cent for all banks and Specialised Deposit-Taking Institutions (SDIs) as a policy response to loans that may experience difficulty in repayments due to slowdown in economic activity. Provisioning norms for loans in all other categories are maintained. This should provide capital relief to banks and SDIs in these uncertain times.
  • Loan repayments that are past due for Microfinance Institutions for up to 30 days shall be considered as “Current” as in the case for all other SDIs.

Source: Myjoyonline.com

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