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Ghana’s economy can’t develop without strong credit bureau – Expert
Posted on: 03-Mar-2013         Source: GNA
Ghana’s economy can’t see real growth and development with impact on citizens' lives, without a functioning credit bureau backed by central bank’s strong enforcement, a credit bureau expert has said.

“Credit reference bureau is a business nobody loses but the economy benefits enormously in terms of job creation and productivity,” Mr George Ahiafor, Chief Executive Officer, XDS Data Ghana, the premier credit reference bureau in the country told the Ghana News Agency on Sunday.

Credit referencing is the collection, maintaining and sharing of both demographic and credit information on individuals and small businesses with lenders on request to enable them to make informed decisions when granting credit.

“To turn this economy around is a very small thing. What leaders and authorities need is to have the gut to do that. They need to put some dynamism into the economy for people to grow their businesses.

“An effective credit bureau system holds the key to solving the biggest headache of access to credit, especially for small medium enterprises (SMEs) that formed about 80% of businesses in Ghana,” Mr Ahiafor said.

He said since XDS data went live on April 1, 2010, credit bureau operations in Ghana had to a greater extent changed the situation where lenders found it difficult to gather demographic and credit information about loan applicants.

Today, he said, banks and other financial institutions had quality reliable data on loan applicants and therefore they did not need to demand collateral before granting loans.

“The commencement of credit bureau operations has enabled banks, non-bank financial institutions and other lenders to establish the credit worthiness of borrowers, which has greatly improved their businesses as they keep making huge savings due to drastic reduction in loan default rate.”

Acknowledging, however, that the response from the banks to loan advancement at reasonable rates had been slow, Mr Ahiafor said, “This is where we need to have the gut to push the banks because the economy must grow and it is the responsibility of the Bank of Ghana to take those measures on the banks.”

Mr Ahiafor, whose experiences and contribution to credit bureau operations goes beyond the borders of Ghana, said the current situation in Ghana called for effective enforcement of the Credit Reporting Act 2007 (Act 726).

The Bank of Ghana, he said, must also step up education on the importance of credit referencing and the need for all financial institutions and other credit grantors to abide by the provisions in the Act.

This, according to Mr Ahiafor, would lead to rewarding good borrowers with more favorable terms, while exposing the bad borrowers, adding that the efficiency gains that would accrue to lenders could be passed on to clients or borrowers in the form of lower interest rates and charges.

He said in the absence of credit reporting system, many lenders would be reluctant to give credit to people they did not have adequate information about.

“The old habit of the Ghanaian who spends years to accumulate money to buy things like house, furniture, household appliances must change. It is not like that in the developed states. People survive and live on OPMs (Other Peoples’ Moneys) and that can also happen in Ghana.”