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‘Falling interest rates good for financial inclusion’

The steady interest rate decline in recent months, with a corresponding reduction in lending rates, augurs well for government’s quest to deepen financial inclusion in the country, CEO of Opportunity International, Kwame Owusu-Boateng, has said.

Currently, we see banks “interest and lending rates coming down, which are good indications because businesses and individuals can borrow at a cheaper cost and be able to repay loans on time,” he told the B&FT on the sidelines of the annual general assembly meeting of Oikocredit, a cooperative investment firm.

According to the central bank’s latest monthly Annual Percentage Rates (APR) and Average Interest (AI) report, the average interest banks charge on loans and advances has seen a three-time consecutive drop.

The industry average for loans and advances, as at the end of March, dropped to 26.7 percent from February’s rate of 26.9 percent, which in itself was a drop of 0.9 percent from month- end January 2017.

To Mr. Owusu-Boateng, this positive trend will enable small and medium sized enterprises ”which form the bulk of businesses in the informal sector” to borrow at a lower rate, produce more goods and services and be able to repay their loans.

“If the rates are good, then we will be able to reach out to more people with same resources; there will be high repayment rates for the banks to get more liquidity. The reverse is harmful as non-payment of loans results in high non-performing loans (NPLs),” he added.

Present at the event was Dr. William Derban, Director of Strategic Partnerships and CSR at Fidelity Bank, who reiterated the need for the deepening of financial inclusion in the country.

“Enhancing financial inclusion will also require more of digitisation or interoperability as the mobile space is growing, as can be seen with the number of people on mobile money,” he said.

“We also need a reliable addressing system and national identification that will make it easier to track people who take loans from the bank. If these are worked on and successfully implemented, it will greatly move the financial inclusion dial in our favour,” he added.

Source: B&FT | Ghana

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