Government will establish a high-level Financial Stability Council, with the view of strengthening and institutionalising mechanisms for maintaining financial stability, financial sector development, inter-regulatory development and coordination, and monitoring of macro-prudential regulation of the economy.
Mr Godwin Anku, the Head of Development Finance, Ministry of Finance (MoF), said the Financial Stability Council, would compromise all financial sector safety net members such as MoF, Bank of Ghana (BoG), Data Protection Commission, National Insurance Commission (NIC), Securities Exchange Commission and National Pensions Regulatory Authority.
Mr Anku said this during the Smart Campaign Financial Inclusion Forum Africa; dubbed “Keeping Clients First in Ghana”.
The Smart Campaign Forum focuses on clients’ protection and keeping clients at the centre of national financial inclusion efforts.
Mr Anku said as part of efforts to protect the consumer, MoF, would consolidate microfinance institutions for proper regulation and supervision by one regulator.
He said this would improve efficient regulation of the Rural Community Banks (RBCs) and MFIs and to enhance financial conduct that would protect the consumer.
Mr Anku said the government would build the capacity of NIC and the insurance industry, in order to strengthen regulation and oversight in the industry and to protect consumers against fraudulent conduct.
He said government would also develop an agricultural insurance strategy/policy to guide efforts to develop agriculture insurance in the country.
Mr Anku said this would protect farmers who buy insurance products; boost agricultural production by mitigating risks of losses and increase the availability of credit to the sector.
He said other financial consumer protection measures include finalisation and passage of the Commodity Exchange and Warehouse receipt system operational.
Mr Anku said this would promote price stability for farmers and improve access to credit to the agriculture sector.
He also cited plans to establish a rating agency to rate banks, insurance entities and later, MFIs, Asset Managers, and Savings and Loans Companies; declaring that this would sanitise the operations of these institutions and provide information for consumers to accurately make decisions concerning them.
Mr Anku said they would establish and operationalise an Investment Protection Fund to comprehensively regulate the investment, protect investors, the increase stability and integrity within the investment environment.
He said government would also establish and operationalise a Financial Market Conduct Authority to deal with consumer protection and market conduct issues; to supervise all consumer protection and market conduct activities across the financial sector.
He said they would design and implement a national financial education campaign targeted at financially excluded groups such as rural residents, farmers, youth, poor, women; using movies, books, and documentaries and local languages and prioritizing key products and services.
He said the he National Financial Inclusion and Development Strategy (NFIDS), was in the process of being submitted to cabinet for approval; stating that it was the intention of government to implement the strategy in 2018.
“We hope operators within the sector and other interested parties would cooperate and assist government to implement the strategy for the development of a robust and efficient financial sector,” he stated.
Ms Isabelle Barres, the Director, Smart Campaigns and Vice President, Centre for Financial Inclusion, said client protection forms the bedrock of the Smart Campaign.
She outlined the seven principles which the Smart Campaign promotes as appropriate product design and delivery, prevention of over indebtedness, transparency, responsible pricing, fair and respectful treatment of clients, privacy of client data and mechanism for
She said developed in concert with providers, international networks, microfinance and banking associations, these principles represent a global consensus on what constitute fair treatment of clients.
Ms Barres said while the Smart Campaign would continue to be a global effort, it would now focus activities in five sub-Saharan African countries – Ghana, Benin, Nigeria, Rwanda and Uganda.
Mr William Derban, the Director, Strategic Partnership, Fidelity Bank, said: “Client protection is fast becoming a very key in the country today, especially with all the digitisation that is going on”.
He said protecting the client’s data and how the client perceive financial services was very important.
Mr Derban said the Smart Campaign seeks to provide some key principles that financial sector players would need to ensure that their clients are protected.
Mr Boubacar Diallo, Senior Advisor, Africa Region, Smart Campaign, said financial inclusion must have the interest of the consumer at heart.