As part of efforts to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses, households and individuals, Mr Anthony Akoto Ampaw, a private legal practitioner, has urged banks to review their interest rates downwards.
He said the country could not begin any serious economic revival unless the banks were ready to change their interest rate policies.
“Let’s face it, in other countries it is the banks that provide credit for economic activity, I mean real economic activity.
“Our banks are a major parasitic institution in the country. That is why banks will continue to charge interest rates of 20 to 30 per cent,” Mr Ampaw stated at the virtual launch of the Ghana CSO COVID-19 Response Coordination Platform.
“Who will go into production and be able to make a return that will allow you to pay 20 to 30 per cent interest rate,” he quizzed.
“Our banks must be forced to recognize that either they are in the country to help us develop or we do not need them?
The Platform, which is being funded by the STAR Ghana Foundation, is a network of independent, non-partisan, like civil society organisations (CSOs) and citizens’ networks coordinating around a structured response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Ampaw noted that the COVID-19 pandemic was not going to go away soon; “there are projections by those who are working in the field that there are going to be likely many more pandemics as we move into the future”.
He said the key thing was to identify the structural defects that the pandemic had exposed and therefore, to rethink how Ghanaians organized themselves as a society.
“In that respect, I do not think that we should do business as usual. We should not simply say that we are waiting for the pandemic to end, so that we go about doing things in that same old way. Because doing things in those old ways have been proven by experience and history to be a total failure,” he said.
“We must recognise that our political elite generally have failed us as a nation. And so if we sit back and allow them to continue to set the agenda nothing is going to happen,” he said.
“It is true that we all know that the structure of our economy is such that we can’t make any real progress, but what are we doing about that? he asked.
He said: “We will not be able to make any serious headway on this matter unless as a nation we develop a new attitude for development.”
He said CSOs had the opportunity to provide the platform to engage in a serious debate as to the strategic way forward.
He noted that the strategic way forward must be based on active promotion and support for the productive sectors of the economy and not for the export specific sectors that continue to dominate public life and policy.
Mr Ampaw noted that there was a need for CSOs to compel the Government to consciously promote a strategic alliance between science and technology and production, saying “if we don’t do this we will be talking about these things in the next hundred years, nothing is going to change.”
He said it was high time civil society needed to organize a well-structured national conference on the questions of development and inclusiveness, rising from the COVID-19 experience.