The status of banks and microfinance institutions whose licenses were revoked in the banking sector clean up was the subject of heated debate in Parliament.
Speaker of the House, Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye on Wednesday objected to the use of the word ‘collapse’ to describe their demise.
He expressed displeasure when the Minority accused the government of choosing to collapse the banks when an alternative option should have been to save and make them viable again.
According to him, the fates of the defunct banks were decided by the Bank of Ghana and not the government.
The standoff ensued after the Member of Parliament for Bolgatanga Central, Isaac Adongo, blamed the Akufo-Addo administration for the collapse of over 400 banks and financial institutions in the banking sector reforms.
The House was debating the Budget Performance Report in respect of the Ministry of Finance for 2019.
He said, “…As the country that appears to be the beacon of the financial hub of West Africa, never mind we have collapsed our own financial institutions and are now a pale shadow of ourselves, we can now add the accolade of a country where dirty money is allowed to flow through the international financial system.
“As a matter of fact, I am very worried that we continue to have this challenge.”
The statement drew a sharp protest from the member for Ledzokuku, Dr. Bernard Okoe Okoe Boye who demanded evidence of the claims.
He argued the defunct banks had systematic administrative challenges leading to the revocation of their licenses.
Speaker Mike Oquaye agreed and indicated the responsibility to license and allow banks to operate in Ghana rest with Bank of Ghana, which is constitutionally mandated to do so independently of the government.
“To insinuate or to state that the government has collapsed banks is totally fallacious and so you must withdraw it,” he orderd.
Mr. Adongo, however, noted that even if the Bank of Ghana collapsed the banks, the government agreed to pay for the cost.
He said, “The government, having considered all the demands on the finances of this country decided the best way to use the money is to fund the collapse by Bank of Ghana.”
This claim brought Mr. Okoe Boye back to his feet who appealed to the Speaker to have the Bolga Central MP withdraw the word collapse because it suggested a deliberate intent on the part of the government to eradicate the banks.
He said, “Mr. Speaker my colleague cannot be allowed to go with the statement that the Bank of Ghana collapsed the banks when the banks had failed to meet their operating requirements.”
The Speaker thereby directed Mr. Adongo to withdrew the word ‘collapse’ and drew an analogy that a student who fails an exam cannot claim the West African Examination Council (WAEC) failed him or her.
He accused the MP of deviating from the subject of the motion and said, “I am very keen to ensure this House this season is not turned into a propaganda ground. I will not allow so don’t just try it. It will not work.”