The Bank of Ghana (BoG) has reached an agreement with the Ghana Air Force to use its fleet, comprising helicopters and aircraft, to airlift money for banks and other financial institutions across the country.
The Governor of the BoG, Dr Ernest Addison, said in Accra last Monday that the arrangement was part of efforts by the central bank to reduce the incidence of armed robbery on vehicles transporting money for financial institutions nationwide.
He said discussions were also underway for the BoG to make its fleet of bullion vans available to financial institutions for the purpose of circulating specie (cash).
The governor said the central bank’s bullion vans would replace the makeshift bullion vans that the banks and financial institutions used to move specie around the country.
The governor was responding to questions from the media on how the central bank intended to address the recurring attacks on bullion vans by armed robbers nationwide.
The interview was on the sidelines of the bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) press conference to announce a decision on its benchmark rate, the policy rate.
The bank maintained the rate at 14.5 per cent after the committee concluded that “the risks to the immediate outlook for inflation and growth are broadly balanced”.
Known as ‘specie movements’ in the financial sector, the distribution of funds across the country has suffered various setbacks in recent times.
Between December last year and this September, banks have suffered three attacks on bullion vans carting money, resulting in the death of a policeman and the loss of money.
In one incident in May this year, armed robbers reportedly made away with more than GH¢600,000, an AK 47 rifle and 19 rounds of ammunition after attacking a bullion at Mmaampehia, near Techiman in the Bono East Region.
Dr Addison said the attacks did not augur well for the integrity and stability of the financial sector and the BoG had, consequently, set in motion a strategy to help make the process more secure.
He said the bank had noted that all the banks and other financial institutions were using “these pick-ups that have been converted into bullion vans”.
“It is a matter that the BoG has taken seriously. We have quite a good fleet of bullion vans and I am asking them to see how we can collaborate with the banks, so that we can have a more secure way of transporting money around the country,” the governor said.
Dr Addison added that he had also met with the Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice-Marshal Frank Hanson, who agreed in principle to assist the bank with the lifting of currency around the country, using some of the aircraft that the Air Force had.
“So, there is a lot of work being done to improve the security of carrying currency around the country,” he added.
When contacted, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Association of Bankers (GAB), Mr John Awuah, said the BoG’s intervention was timely and commendable.
He said should the central bank succeed in getting banks to airlift cash and transport some in its bullion vans, “it will be a dream come true for us the banks”.
“We wish it could start as soon as practicable,” he added in a separate interview yesterday.
Both arrangements would not increase the cost of banking, he said, noting that it would only impact efficiency.
“As for the cost of cash movements, we are already incurring it. What will happen now is that BoG vans and the helicopters will do more moving large amounts of funds across regions or from branch to head office, so that our own systems can handle the smaller transactions,” Mr Awuah said.
He said banks had delegated the duty of specie movement to cash-in-transit service providers, majority of which had failed to standardise the activity, and expressed the hope that the ongoing discussions with the service providers would lead to the development of modalities on how to make specie movement more secure and comforting.