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The need for banks to pay appreciable interest on deposits they take took centre stage at a public forum held on Friday to draw more people to the habit of savings.

Members of the public were not enthused about the negligible interest banks pay on savings of customers, arguing that the trend had become a disincentive to potential clients.

The event, part of the Financial Literacy Week organised primarily by the country's Finance Ministry, aims to teach Ghanaians how to deal with personal finances.

Under the theme "Knowledge is Money", the week involved the organisation of various workshops stringed with informative broadcasts on national radio and television.

The literacy programme is expected to raise public awareness and enhance understanding of the range of products and services being offered by financial institutions.

The well-attended public forum had experts from the Finance Ministry, the Bank of Ghana, the country's Securities and Exchange Commission and the Ghana Insurers Association as well as the Securities Industry on hand to answer questions.

Mr Joe Addo, a 45-year old mechanic, said he could not appreciate the practice whereby savings lodged in banks are used by others to enhance the businesses but no or little were being paid on it.

He said while the banks were quick to take their commissions and interest on loans, they on the other hand were not interested in extending same to customers who deposited monies with them.

This, he said, explains why most people, especially operators in the informal sector preferred keeping their monies at home despite the knowledge of the risks in doing so.

Ms. Helen Amoako, a hairdresser, said the attitude of some workers in the banks also did not help matters.

"They lack the patience and time to explain things to you and this makes some of us who could not read and write to believe that only the educated must have and operate bank accounts," she said.

Mr. Dela Selormey, Head of Banking Supervision, Bank of Ghana, said ensuring prudent management of risk and public education to deepen the understanding of the people was a necessary first step in meeting the needs of clients in the financial services industry.

"We need continuous education to enable members of the public understand the operations of the banking sector and I think we are on the right path in achieving that," he said.

Other participants stressed the need for appropriate incentives from financial services providers to get more people to save and also the need to cut the high interest rate charged on loans to encourage people to build relationship with the banks.

The participants were educated on the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement System, the need to buy insurance products as a safeguard against unforeseen risks and the collective investment schemes such as mutual funds, among others.

The Financial Literacy Week is the brain child of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to raise awareness and enhance understanding of the public about the range of products and services being offered by financial institutions. The maiden one was held in September 2008.

The week-long event had inputs from financial experts and institutions such as the Association of Bankers, National Insurance Commission, Ghana Insurers Association and Securities and Exchange Commission.

Celebration of the week is in line with recommendations in Ghana's Financial Sector Strategic Plan, which recognises the need to improve the financial literacy of Ghanaians to accelerate financial deepening in the economy.


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