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VENTURES AFRICA – Ghana’s Central Bank has taken measures to forestall a free fall of the country’s currency, becoming the third African country to take such action after Nigeria and South Africa.
Hit by falls in prices of its two major exports – gold and cocoa, Ghana’s cedi has lost about 23 percent of its value over the past year, according to a report by the BBC.
The Bank of Ghana, the country’s central bank, in a statement on Wednesday directed that all transactions in the country should be done in Ghana cedis. The bank had released earlier released a notice dated October 10, 2012, and expects strict compliance.
Cash withdrawals over the counter from Foreign Exchange Accounts (FEA) and Foreign Currency Accounts (FCA) shall only be permitted for travel purposes outside Ghana and shall not exceed $10,000 or its equivalent in convertible foreign currency, per person, per travel, the statement read.
Central Bank governor Kofi Wampah added that banks would not be allowed to grant loans in foreign currencies.
“No bank shall grant a foreign currency denominated loan or foreign currency linked facility to a customer, who is not a foreign exchange earner,” the governor said, adding that the main purpose of the regulation is “to ensure that we continue to use the cedi as the legal tender.”
In a bid to attract more investment, Ghana’s Central Bank has also raised interest rates to 18 percent.
Ghana’s apex bank’s boss also warned forex traders against breaking the new rule, noting that erring traders would be seriously dealt with.
“For the forex bureaux, the issues are bordering on anti-money laundering… Ghana was black listed in 2012 because of our laxity.
“We also require more identification when purchasing or selling to forex bureaux and we also request them to computerise so that it will be easier for our supervisors to verify what they are doing,” the governor said, assuring a strict monitoring of the bureaux.
Wampah noted that the policies are in place to guarentee the attractiveness of cedi assets “and therefore instead of going to buy dollars you will rather buy treasury bills, Bank of Ghana bills and so on”.
Other emerging markets have also responded to the reduction in the U.S. Federal Reserve Board’s bond buying program – which has badly affected their economies – in similar fashion.