The Interior Ministry has refused to give approval for banks that have imported armoured bullion vehicles into the country to take delivery of same from the ports, sources in the banking sector have revealed.
It’s been six months since some of these banks have completed the necessary port clearance processes including payment of duties after importing these vehicles that are meant for the safety of cash-in-transit as well as police personnel who escort same.
However, letters upon letters written to the Interior Ministry for it to grant approval for the banks to take delivery of the vehicles from the ports have yielded no responses.
This is in spite of the fact that the ministry has made it expressly clear in a letter it wrote to the banks, saying they needed to obtain clearance from the Interior Minister upon the arrival of the vehicles at the port before they could take delivery of same.
A letter written on the Interior Minister’s behalf to one of the banks in September last year and signed by Chief Director, Adelaide Anno-Kumi, for instance, asked the banks to note that when the armoured vehicles arrive at the port, you should obtain clearance from the Minister for Interior to take delivery.
In spite of the above instructions, the ministry has refused to grant approval for some of these banks to take delivery of their vehicles from the ports even though they have written to obtain such clearance as prescribed in the ministry’s mail.
The ministry’s refusal, our sources say, is mind-boggling, especially when the Currency Management Department of the Bank of Ghana had also approved the banks’ requests for the importation of such vehicles.
One such approval letter written and signed by Joseph Nartey for Head of Currency Management Department of BoG in September last year said the content of the document [request to purchase the bullet proof vehicles] indicated that it meets the required standard specifications of armouring for cash-in-transit vehicles as directed by Bank of Ghana”.
Costs being incurred by importing banks
Our sources at the banks have lamented about the accruing demurrage cost of the vehicles in the face of the inaction from the interior ministry.
Already, some of the banks have had to pay duty of not less than GHS 800,000 for the vehicles they have imported.
IGP’s warning during bullion van robberies
As readers may recall, at the height of bullion van robberies across the country, the then Inspector General of Police, COP James Oppong-Boanuh, blamed the success rate of such heists on the substandard nature of the vans.
He described the bullion vans as “not fit-for-purpose”, putting both police personnel and the money they transport at risk.
He asked the Association of Bankers to provide fortified armoured vehicles for carting currencies by the close of June 2021 as agreed between the banks and the Police Service, or else the Police withdraw its officers for escort duties.
The situation as it pertains
It is therefore perplexing to know that in spite of these warnings and the urgency with which the vans were required at the time and even now, officials of the state are failing to treat the arrivals of the vehicles with same urgency.
Attempts to get Interior Ministry’s response
Our attempts to get the ministry to respond to why it is not actioning the banks’ request for approval have failed so far.
The Interior Ministry has also not been able to tell us why it has failed to respond to the many follow-up letters written by the banks to draw its attention to the letters.