Financial inclusion key to economic growth

November 14, 2015

FINANCIAL inclusion is a key driver for economic growth and it is difficult to pursue economic growth if a large sector of our society is financially excluded from active participation in the economy.

Speaking at the National Financial Inclusion Strategy workshop at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva yesterday, Reserve Bank of Fiji governor Barry Whiteside said this was why they had seen massive worldwide support in this area over the past five or six years.

“The fact that many of the institutions driving financial inclusion initiatives are central banks and ministries of finance in their respective countries is truly a clear indication of its importance and recognition. We in Fiji, I am really glad to say, are no different,” he said.

Mr Whiteside said with the completion of Fiji’s initial five-year Financial Inclusion Strategic Plan in 2014, they were now at the first major crossroads, needing to set new goals and new pathways forward.

Mr Whiteside said the workshop was very timely because stakeholders strategised on the next phase of financial inclusion from 2016 to 2020.

“So let me say how delighted I am to be here this morning (yesterday) to say a few words about our journey so far, and also elaborate a little and stir your minds into some possibilities on the way forward. I am confident that through our collaboration and sharing at this workshop today, we will be able to ‘hammer’ out together a new strategy to take this journey to a new level, extending the boundaries and improving the livelihoods of our most vulnerable communities.”

, and as we prepare ourselves to host the 2016 AFI Global Policy Forum and showcase Fiji and the Pacific to more than 600 delegates from across the globe.

“We wanted a quantitative reference number first up so we could monitor our progress. So a key goal was to reach 150,000 unbanked Fijians by the year 2014. We later tweaked this to read ‘underserved’ instead of ‘unbanked’. I am happy to say that we achieved that target in the first quarter of 2014.”

Mr Whiteside said: “Now, more than ever, we are seeing the importance of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) across the world as extremely important contributors of jobs and economic growth. Fiji should be no different”.

He said he would like to see built into the education curriculum some training in entrepreneurial skills and thinking.

“It would be nice to witness a portion of our youths developing the necessary skills to be able to work for themselves by setting up their own small businesses.’Work for Self’ or ‘Be my own Boss’ could be slogans championed to create a paradigm shift in the mentality and attitude of how our youths think and behave at the point of leaving school or tertiary training. If we can, on an annual basis, get even a small portion successfully coming out and starting new businesses with appropriate support mechanisms, then we are on our way to building what could be a strong MSME sector,” he said.

Source: Fiji Times