PM Tells: Key Role Of Banks Reach­ing Out To Peo­ple

Fiji Sun - - Front Page - EDITED BY: RACHNA LAL ARISHMA DEVI-NARAYAN

From left: Chair of the Al­liance for Fi­nan­cial In­clu­sion (AFI) Board of Di­rec­tors, Gov­er­nor Benno Ndulu, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Al­fred Han­nig, At­tor­ney-Gen­eral and Min­is­ter for Econ­omy Aiyaz SayedKhaiyum and Prime Min­is­ter Voreqe Bain­i­marama at the big in­ter­na­tional AFI 2016 Global Pol­icy Fo­rum at the De­na­rau Con­ven­tion Cen­tre on De­na­rau Is­land, Nadi, yes­ter­day. Mr Bain­i­marama dis­cussed the crit­i­cal role played by com­mer­cial banks in ex­pand­ing the reach of fi­nan­cial ser­vices and prod­ucts, when he opened the fo­rum.

Prime Min­is­ter Voreqe Bain­i­marama yes­ter­day dis­cussed the crit­i­cal role played by com­mer­cial banks in ex­pand­ing the reach of fi­nan­cial ser­vices and prod­ucts. His com­ments came as he opened the Al­liance for Fi­nan­cial In­clu­sion 2016 Global Pol­icy Fo­rum at the De­na­rau Con­ven­tion Cen­tre on De­na­rau Is­land. “Whether a bank is owned by do­mes­tic or for­eign in­ter­ests, banks op­er­at­ing in any coun­try must pro­mote fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion,” he em­pha­sised. “Cen­tral banks and re­serve banks must ad­vo­cate and work to en­sure that the cost of bank­ing ser­vices is not pro­hib­i­tive to low­in­come fam­i­lies. “And that is where our reg­u­la­tors play a very im­por­tant role.” Mr Bain­i­marama ac­knowl­edged that Fiji has a solid foun­da­tion of fi­nan­cial ser­vices and prod­ucts on of­fer. Fur­ther­more, he said our In­ter­change Net­work Pay­ments or Na­tional Switch Bill, which is cur­rently be­fore Par­lia­ment, aims to re­duce the costs of elec­tronic trans­ac­tions.

“It will pro­vide a reg­u­lated, cen­tralised en­vi­ron­ment for us­ing ATMs and Point of Sale Ma­chines,” he said.

“It will give not only banks, but all other en­ti­ties con­duct­ing large trans­ac­tions, in­cen­tive to par­tic­i­pate in the Na­tional Switch. “For ex­am­ple, our iTaukei Lands Trust Board, which ad­min­is­ters land on be­half of dif­fer­ent land-own­ing units, can dis­burse lease funds through the Na­tional Switch to all in­di­vid­ual re­cip­i­ents in the re­spec­tive land own­ing units.

“Sim­i­larly, our so­cial wel­fare re­cip­i­ents will also be able to di­rectly ac­cess funds through the na­tional switch, thereby re­duc­ing the cur­rent fees and charges.” Mr Bain­i­marama told the over 500 del­e­gates that it is in the best in­ter­est of ev­ery Fi­jian con­sumer that we in­tro­duce reg­u­la­tion in our fi­nan­cial sys­tem to foster com­pe­ti­tion at the top and bot­tom ends of the mar­ket.

Col­la­tion and re­port­ing

He pointed out another ex­am­ple lies in the col­la­tion and re­port­ing of those who ac­cess credit. “Such ac­tiv­ity must oc­cur un­der an ap­pro­pri­ate reg­u­la­tory frame­work,” Mr Bain­i­marama said. “As we pre­vi­ously saw in Fiji, there was no reg­u­la­tion, and only one com­pany was op­er­at­ing in the in­dus­try. “The rules of the game were not clear and this seg­ment in the fi­nan­cial sys­tem lacked trans­parency, so we in­tro­duced new laws reg­u­lat­ing those pro­vid­ing credit re­port­ing ser­vices.

“As a re­sult, we have greater in­ter­est from over­seas com­pa­nies and have ended the un­fair re­port­ing of credit his­to­ries that dis­pro­por­tion­ately af­fected those lower on the so­cio-eco­nomic spec­trum or who were not part of the elite.

“Truly in­clu­sive fi­nan­cial sys­tems can only de­velop when a na­tion has ap­pro­pri­ate na­tional frame­works in place.”

Fiji’s com­mit­ment

Fiji is co-host­ing the 8th An­nual AFI Global Pol­icy Fo­rum – the first meet­ing of the Al­liance to be con­vened in the South Pa­cific.

It sees the con­ven­ing of over 500 dis­tin­guished fi­nan­cial ex­perts from around the world from over 81 coun­tries. Mr Bain­i­marama thanked the del­e­gates for be­ing ad­vo­cates of fi­nan­cial in­clu­sion for bring­ing peo­ple from the mar­gins and striv­ing to give them ac­cess to fi­nance. He fur­ther gave Fiji’ com­mit­ment: “We are de­ter­mined to leave no-one be­hind on our jour­ney for­ward as a na­tion. “And are con­scious more than ever of our re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to the more vul­ner­a­ble among us – women, chil­dren, low in­come earn­ers, the el­derly, the sick and the dis­abled. “That com­mit­ment to our marginalised groups is matched by my Gov­ern­ment’s firm belief in the free mar­ket.

“This is the no­tion that the most en­ter­pris­ing of our peo­ple should be given ev­ery in­cen­tive to work as hard as they can to ben­e­fit them­selves. “Be­cause in do­ing so, they are able to spread their wealth to oth­ers by re-in­vest­ing in our econ­omy and cre­at­ing jobs.” Mr Bain­i­marama in­di­cated that Fiji has em­barked on its sec­ond Na­tional Fi­nan­cial In­clu­sion Strate­gic Plan. “Our tar­get for the cur­rent pe­riod be­tween now and 2020 is to im­prove ac­ces­si­bil­ity to fi­nan­cial ser­vices from the cur­rent 65 per cent of all adults to 85 per cent,” he said.

“Fifty per cent of this in­crease is im­prov­ing ac­cess for women.” The Global Pol­icy Fo­rum will con­clude to­day.

ARISHMA DEVI-NARAYAN Photo: Waisea Na­sokia. More

Photo: Waisea Na­sokia.

Re­serve Bank of Fiji gov­er­nor, Barry White­side, Prime Min­is­ter Voreqe Bain­i­marama, Chair of the Al­liance for Fi­nan­cial In­clu­sion Board of Di­rec­tors and Bank of Tan­za­nia gov­er­nor, Benno Ndulu, Al­liance for Fi­nan­cial In­clu­sion ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor, Al­fred Han­nig at the 2016 Al­liance for Fi­nan­cial In­clu­sion (AFI) Global Pol­icy Fo­rum at the Sher­a­ton Fiji Re­sort, De­na­rau Is­land yes­ter­day..

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