RBF: Fiji Advanced In Financial Literacy
Fiji has forged itself in the world as one of the leading developing countries that is well in advance with financial literacy. This was stated yesterday by the governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji Barry Whiteside and Peter W Foster, the Head of Communications for the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI). The annual meeting of AFI was completed yesterday and is being held in conjunction with the Global Policy Forum, which will be opened by the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama at the Sheraton Fiji Resort on Denarau Island today. The RBF is host to this year’s forum which has been described by Mr Foster as the largest yet with 81 developing and donor countries taking part. The AFI completed their AGM behind closed doors yesterday discussing their finances, budgeting and the way forward.
“This is a pier learning-knowledge-sharing type of meeting,” Mr Whiteside said. “Many countries are more advanced than us in terms of financial inclusion and we will learn off them and likewise they will learn off us because we advanced in a number of areas.
“One of this is financial literacy we have put in place into schools (Financial Education or FINED). “Topics such as money investing and budgeting have been put into the school curriculum and people get to learn these things and when they are adults they are financial savvy. “We are fairly advanced compared to other developing countries in the world so other countries will learn off us.” Mr Whiteside said one of the areas that Fiji would learn was mobile money services, as present with Vodafone with MPaisa and Digicel with Digi-Money.
“According to our last survey, 700,000 people had signed up but the active usage by someone in the last 90 days was only three percent,” he said. “We are wondering why and how we can encourage people on the usage of these services because it is fairly good.” He said in other countries the usage was much higher and that was why Fiji is planning to have side meetings with these countries to see how they could learn on getting more people involved. He said another area was for the two mobile services to get together and allow the transfer of money from one to the other. Mr Whiteside said this was not happening and there was a need to know why and how some other countries have managed to make this happen. “Tanzania has managed to have their networks have that interchange,” he said as an example. Mr Whiteside added this was for banks and mobile networks where one could transfer money from their mobile to their bank accounts.
He said Fiji’s financial inclusion programme should be enhanced going into the future. Mr Whiteside said a Demand Side survey, which was done following the country’s first Five Year Strategic Plan ended in 2014, had now been completed where people were asked on the usage of such financial services. “We have reviewed the survey and have put in place areas where there were gaps and some in these areas are in financial literacy and move further to micro and medium small entrepreneurs.”
He said this would fit in well with those coming out of universities.
Many countries are more advanced than us in terms of financial inclusion and we will learn off them and likewise they will learn off us because we advanced in a number of areas. Barry Whiteside Governor for Reserve Bank of Fiji
From left: Chairperson of Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) and Bank of Zambia deputy governor-administration Tukiya Mabula, executive director Alfred Hanning and the Reserve Bank of Fiji governor, Barry Whiteside at the Alliance for Financial Inclusion Global Policy Forum press conference at Sheraton Fiji Resort, Nadi.