Financial literacy is an essential life skill that has important impact on an individual, family well-being and on the economy as a whole. Over the past two decades, both developed and developing countries have become increasingly concerned about the level of financial literacy of their citizens, particularly among young people.
Moreover, the literature suggest that, globally, financial illiteracy is a major reason for falling saving rates. There is therefore the need for people to understand how to save in order to change their livelihoods and realize the economic conditions in the country.
It is on the backdrop of this that Ecobank Ghana Limited partnered with the Bank of Ghana, to provide a two-day capacity training for the Journalists for Business Advocacy (JBA) under the theme: “Understanding Ghana’s Financial Sector Reforms: The Role of the Journalists,” which was organised by the Journalists for Business Advocacy (JBA), in Accra at the Ecobank New Head Office, from Wednesday 11th to Thursday 12th December, 2019.
Speaking at the training, Dr. Maxwell Opoku-Afari, the First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana indicated that, the Bank of Ghana recognises the important role journalists play in sensitising the public about policies and programs nationwide, especially during the Bank’s Monetary Policy meetings.
Saying, “As a Bank, we always seek for such opportunities to develop strategic partnerships with journalists in the interest of business advocacy. Journalism is one of the most powerful professions in our world today because it helps propagate and shape ideas, policies, programs and the destiny of societies. However, it has been noted that to deliver these objectives of shaping society, the practice of journalism must be underpinned by responsibility.”
Dr. Opoku-Afari, explained that, in the literature, there are codes of ethics that drives responsible journalism, “These are seeking the truth and reporting it, minimizing harm in the discharge of duties, acting independently, and being accountable. When these code of ethics are imbibed by journalists, it ensures the delivery of a kind of public good to economic agents in a responsible manner,” he added.
He said, “Financial journalism can be used as a tool to advance the objectives of sound fiscal policies, efficient transmission of monetary policies, address bottlenecks hindering financial intermediation in the banking sector, promote structural reforms to ensure a smooth functioning of the economy, and above all support the process of economic growth and poverty reduction.”
Dr. Afari, also explained that, the extension of journalism to Issues of famine and poverty eradication, demonstrates the extent to which journalism and press freedom can be exploited for the benefit of society.
Touching on the role of the Press in the Bank of Ghana’s Monetary Policy Process, he said the Bank of Ghana sees the press as a strategic partner and important stakeholder in helping communicate and sensitize the public about the Bank’s policy decisions. Saying, “As a matter of fact, the literature on central bank communications explains that good communication of a central bank’s policy intentions to economic agents, helps with the proper transmission of policies.”
“And this underscores the role of the media in conveying policy decisions to economic agents. When the media is well knowledgeable on the key issues at stake and can explain same to economic agents, policy transmission full assimilation of such policies to the public becomes complete,” he noted.
Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), he said, has had 91 successful MPC meetings followed by Press Conferences since the process started 17 years ago, with the press being the principal agents and medium for communicating the Committee’s decisions to the public, and in the same vein used the platform to seek clarification on critical issues of concern on macroeconomic and financial sector developments.
The First Deputy Governor, emphasized that, financial stability constitutes another important objective of the Bank of Ghana. Indicating that, “The period 20172018 was eventful following the implementation of comprehensive reforms by the Bank to safeguard depositors’ funds, regain financial stability, and reposition the industry to support the country’s economic transformation.”
He also mentioned further moves by the central Bank to consolidate the gains made within the banking sector and extended the reforms to the specialised deposit taking institutions within the year, and noted that, going forward, financial journalists would have to be more intrusive in their quest for knowledge and must be prepared to help unearth irregularities within the financial space to sustain the process and ensure financial stability.
Dr. Maxwell Opoku-Afari, disclosed that, “At the November MPC meeting, the Committee announced a number of macro-prudential and market conduct regulaton/ measures to help boost credit to the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs), foster more competition in the banking sector and in the process help lower lending rates.
To recap, these include: Setting aside 2 percent of banks’ primary reserve to support targeted lending to SMEs as part of the Enterprise Credit Scheme announced in the 2020 budget, Exploring the possibility of setting a minimum loan to ratio to ensure that more deposits mobilized by banks are channelled to viable private sector projects,
Working closely with banks to ensure that banks do not pass on their operational inefficiencies and overhead costs to their clients by aligning compensation with overall bank performance, BOG to scrutinize compensation policies for Chief Executive Officers and key management personnel as well as Board of Directors of universal banks, and Banks will be required to develop and publish a clear framework on the risk premium build-up that impact on an individual borrowers’ credit profiles.”
He therefore entreated journalists to muster courage and be diligent in the discharge of their duties amidst any challenges in the financial sector, in the years ahead.
The Managing Director of Ecobank Ghana, Mr. Daniel Sackey, in a speech read on his behalf by the Head of Corporate Communications of Ecobank Ghana, Mrs. Rita Nana Aba Tsegah, disclosed that, Ecobank has been a proud sponsorer of this all important annual workshop for five consecutive years.
Indicating that, “This is in line with the bank’s commitment to contribute to the enhancement of media reportage and commentary on financial and economic issues affecting this country. We are glad to know that over two hundred business journalists have benefited from this training from the inception date.”
“I’m particularly delighted to know from your executives the positive impacts made by these workshops. I am informed that business journalist today, are taking the concept of specialisation seriously exhibiting knowledge of the basic concepts of reporting financial matters which has contributed to a enhance economic and financial reporting,” she said.
According to Mrs. Tsegah, it is a welcoming news that Journalists are now circumspect in their line of reporting, especially in the banking sector owing to the importance of the financial sector to national growth and development.
All of these have come about as a result of the important topics normally discussed at these annual workshops. As you may recall, the core theme for the 2017 workshop was “Contribution of SMEs in driving Ghana’s developmental agenda.”
She said, “It is my expectation that we will leave here with a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter, including lessons learnt from Ghana and other markets around the glob that have witnessed such reports. I’ll encourage each and every one of us in our delegations to consider the issue of financial inclusion and financial literacy.
It is key for empowering the deprived and the vulnerable sectors and person in Ghana. It is also a key developmental issue on the agenda for government.”
Mrs. Rita Tsegah, further disclosed that, Ecobank continues to play its role aimed at empowering hundred million Africans to gain financial freedom through their wide array of digital banking products and services.
She however underscored for everyone to embrace the Ecobank Bobile App, which is a user friendly backing applications and aimed to save users to make financial transactions without the use of cash.
Mrs. Tsegah, reemphasized that, the App has the ability to enable over thirty three African countries achieve their drives towards building a cash light economy.
President of the Journalists for Business Advocacy JBA), Mr. Suleiman Mustapha, on his part lauded the Bank of Ghana and Ecobank Ghana, having been there for JBA for the past five years building the capacity of its members in the areas of business and financial reporting.
“It is important for us as Journalists to understand the issues at stake. If we don’t, we will be committing a huge havoc on the society. As conveyers of information, it is necessary to always update our skills to get the knowledge in the financial sector in order to report accurately, devoid of misreporting,” he said.
Mr. Mustapha, also underpinned JBA’s plans to group the country into four zones in order to spread its tentacles to cover the whole, within the first quarter of 2020. This, he said, with support from Ecobank and BoG, would help in building the capacity of Journalists across the country to as a matter of importance report accurately as in an electioneering year.