Positive Outlook For Economy — Andani

stanbic pixAlhassan Andani, Managing Director of Stanbic Bank Ghana Limited, has predicted a positive economic growth for the country this year.

“Inflation and interest rate is expected to tumble in the second quarter of this year,’’ he said and urged the private sector to “gird their loins’’ to take advantage of the opportunities that exist in the country to expand their business portfolios.

Inflation inched from 13.2 in November to 13.5 in December last year, largely influenced by the rise in the prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages.

Speaking to some selected journalists on the economic outlook for 2014 at the bank’s new corporate office – the Stanbic Height — near the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Mr Andani said, he disagreed with people who predict economic doom for the country in 2014.

He said the current rise in inflation, partly influenced by the   increases  in utility prices,  would normalise at the end of the first quarter.

“We hold the view that inflation will be relatively high in the first quarter and improve in the second quarter,’’ he said.

The Managing Director said the removal of subsidies and increase in some taxes would enable the government to raise more revenue to meet its obligation  and reduce its  borrowing.

While commending government for effort to address the budget deficit, he stressed the need for government to prioritise its spending to curtail the growing budget deficit.

“Government should invest in areas that will bring additional revenues to its coffers,’’ he said and mentioned some of the areas as ports expansion and infrastructure development.

Though, government could not be blamed for the depreciation of the Cedi, he entreated the  managers of the economy to  “critically look at the sources of raising more foreign exchange”.

“We need to diversify the economy and focus on the production of more export commodity to rake in more foreign exchange,’’ he said, and stressed ”an increase in cocoa production and oil could help address the menace’’.

Mr Andani said the biggest threat to the country’s economic growth was bad reportage about the country by   a section of the media.

He said investors would want to invest in the country if they hear positive stories about the country and therefore urged the media especially the state ones to  project the investment opportunities  in the country.

Highlighting  on the  bank’s performance for last year, Mr Andani said  “2013 was good for Stanbic Ghana Limited.’’

“On the whole, 2013 was a good year for  Stanbic Bank.  We increased our market share and made progress,’’ he said.

He said the slowdown in economic activities,  due to the court  case,  helped the bank to “clean its  bad books.”

“The volatilities helped us to increased our earnings and our net interest income posted strong results,’’ Mr  Andani said.

On the way forward for 2014, Mr Andani said the focus  of Stanbic Bank  would be promote  small and medium enterprises, personal and business banking to  reach a lot more customers and also provide financial services for the unbanked.

“Stanbic Bank this year focus on expansion and establishing new branches,’’ the Managing Director said.

Mr. Andani disclosed that the bank would be doubling its finance to the agriculture this year.

Currently, the bank’s loan portfolio to the agriculture sector stands at GH¢56 million.

“Stanbic Bank wants to be part of government’s efforts to revamp  agriculture, particularly the poultry industry,’’ he said.

Against this backdrop, he said the bank was investing in commercial maize and soya farming. By Kingsley Asare

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