In a heated question and answer session in Parliament on Tuesday, Ramaphosa was quizzed about various issues such as the expropriation of land without compensation, the crisis engulfing the State Security Agency (SSA), attracting investment and the proposed state bank.
The ANC has adopted a policy stance to support the establishment of a state bank. It has cited a need to review the financial sector charter in relation to access to finance for small and informal businesses as well as financial inclusion, affordability, and bank charges.
The party wants space for a variety of sector-specific banks or second-tier banks, such as a construction bank, stokvels, co-operative banks and state banks, as part of its vision to improve access and affordability to support of inclusive growth.
Answering EFF MP and chief whip Floyd Shivambu, Ramaphosa raised concern about the “monopoly” held by SA’s big-four banks, saying more banks were needed to broaden access to funding. “The state-owned bank is a resolution taken by the governing party … if ever you wanted the originator of this concept you will do well to work with the governing party.
“Indeed it may well lead to the amendment of [the] Banks Act.… I support a state-owned bank. Through this bank, we will be able to broaden our money pool in our country … we need to create more banks that will make money available to the citizens of our country. We need township banks; there is no reason why we have townships with no banks.… In a number of countries there is a plethora of banks to make finance accessible to a number of stakeholders,” Ramaphosa said.
Shivambu plans to propose an amendment bill in Parliament to provide the legislative framework for the establishment of a state bank. Notice of his intention was published in last week’s Government Gazette.
The proposal is “to amend the Banks Act to make it possible for state-owned companies to register in terms of that act and to conduct the business of a bank”.
Shivambu said current requirements by the Banks Act on registering and conducting the business of a bank made it impossible for a state-owned company registered in terms of the Companies Act to conduct the business of a bank.
DA MP Gwen Ngwenya, a member of the finance committee, said the party would oppose the proposal for the establishment of a state bank. “With more South Africans dependent on social grants than there are in employment, the EFF’s bill will propose to have a population both indebted and dependent on the government,” Ngwenya said.