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The Bank of Ghana has announced that it has reached an agreement with universal banks over a debt write-off policy that ensures the high non-performing loans (NPLs) ratio in the country is brought down to about 10 percent.

The central bank is hopeful that the move will reduce the impact of high NPLs on the books of banks and thus ease access to credit for the growth and expansion of businesses.

The First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr. Maxwell Opoku Afari, speaking at the Ghana-EU summit on investments for sustainable job creation said he’s hopeful the new methods will help drive down interest rates of banks.

“Writing the debt off does not mean you will not go after those debts. But this means you can clean your books and set them aside and use the debt restructuring programme to go after those loans. The clean-up will reflect the true NPLs ratio without legacy loans.

We have engaged the banks, and we have agreed on a write off policy. They have started writing that portion of the ten percent which is due to legacy loans. And we have a timeline and we believe that by the time we get there, that portion will be off so we will be talking about NPLs that go into higher single digits or lower double digits,” Dr. Opoku-Afari stated.

According to the central bank, the banking sector’s non-performing loans ratio stood at 18.7 percent as at the end of March 2019.

The Governor of the Bank of Ghana is recently quoted as saying the NPL level puts a strain on the monetary policy functions of the bank.

“I must say that in spite of the improvements through the enforcement of loan write-offs, NPLs are still high at 18.7 percent at the end of March 2019. This level by all measures is unacceptable and more works need to be done in this area” he said.