Lower Pra Rural Bank Plc in the Western Region declared GHC0.25 as a dividend per share last year as against 5 to 7 pesewas in previous years.
Speaking at the 35th Annual General Meeting and launch of the bank’s 40th-anniversary celebration slated for August over the weekend, the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Isaac Kwamina Van-Ess, said the figure amounting to millions of cedis, is the highest so far declared by any sister rural bank in the country.
He said Lower Pra which is rated as one of the best five performing rural banks in the oil region and 12th in Ghana, deserves commendation for this historic feat.
Mr Van-Ess explained that the dividends will be calculated and deposited into shareholders’ accounts this week after all the necessary arrangements had been made per Bank of Ghana (BoG) regulations.
He, therefore, urged shareholders to visit the various branches and agencies next week to withdraw their booties without visiting the headquaters in Shama to do so.
Touching on the performance of the bank in 2022, Mr Van-Ess disclosed that the bank performed well with its minimum capital exceeding GHC1million despite basic challenges such as rising operational expenses, delayed and non-payment of loans.
“Our 2022 operational results indicate that there is light at the end of the tunnel in spite of the aftermath of COVID-19, the Domestic Debt Exchange, and the increasingly stiff competition around us. We have braced ourselves for the challenging task ahead of us,” he stressed.
He said the bank recorded GH1,893,655 as profit after tax as compared to GHC931,863 in 2021, representing a 103.20% change while deposits also grew from GHC151,142, 796 in 2021 to GHC183, 896, 959 last, an increase of 21.67%.
Mr Van-Ess further disclosed that the bank’s investments shot up to GHC67,631,850 in 2022 as against GHC60,644,042 last two years, 11.52% growth.
According to him, there was also a 21% change in total assets last year, that is from GHC166, 900, 539 to GHC201,948,607 with advances also increasing from GHC73,372,102 to GHC93, 422, 909 representing 27.33%.
He said Shareholders’Funds increased from GHC12, 138, 387 in 2021 to GHC13,255, 617 last year, a 9.20% change.
Mr Van-Ess, however, expressed the board’s displeasure over the failure of some customers to service their loans fully or on schedule and cautioned all recalcitrant defaulters of moves to institute legal action against them.
This notwithstanding, he said Lower Pra takes corporate social responsibility seriously and disbursed GHC1,511,803.36 last year to support developmental activities of the catchment areas in terms of education, health, agriculture, infrastructure and community-initiated projects, among others.
He also mentioned a scholarship scheme set up by the bank to support brilliant but needy children in the catchment area pursuing secondary, vocational, and tertiary education.
Over 2,330 children, he said, have so far benefited from the scheme since its inception 20 years ago with a total amount of GHC3,660,000 disbursed.
On his part, the Regional Vice-Chairperson of the Association of Rural Banks, Joseph Baffour Tabi, regretted that the majority of the 300 Rural and Community Banks (RCBs) in Ghana did not make a profit last year due to unfavourable economic environment and commended Lower Pra for sailing through.
A similar sentiment was expressed by the Managing Director of ARB Apex Bank, Alex Kwasi Awuah, who in a speech read for him, urged all RCBs to put measures in place that will cushion them from shocks of unexpected circumstances.
He also urged them to block all leakages and loopholes in their operations and choose investments that will always ensure the availability of liquid or cash at their banks.