Financial Diaries– Portfolios of Papua New Guinea Low Income Households

October 19, 2012

Developing a comprehensive understanding of the financial behaviors of low income households is important for expanding financial inclusion in PNG, where an estimated 92% of the population does not currently have access to financial services such as a bank account.

Gaining this understanding is the objective of the Financial Diaries Project, which was launched in Port Moresby on 24th September, 2012 by Assistant Governor, Dr. Gae Kauzi. The project will be implemented by Bank of Papua New Guinea (BPNG) with financial assistance from Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) through a performance based grant and technical advice and analysis will be provided by Microfinance Opportunities (MFO).

The Project team received one week of training to learn the required methods to collect information from low income households on cash inflows, outflows, remittances, in-kind barter, gifts and other events that have impact on financial transactions.

 PFIP Technical Analyst, Ramanathan Subramanian explained, “The Financial Diaries project will enable BPNG to take relevant steps to ensure that appropriate, private sector initiatives empower vulnerable populations to create wealth in PNG.” Mr Subramanian added, “This data will assist BPNG in facilitating the development of responsive policies, financial products and services to the large unbanked and under banked population.”

Guy Stuart, of MFO, explained that the comprehensive collection of data would assist financial service providers in PNG gain a deep understanding of the ways in which consumers use money, interact with financial service providers and transact within their social networks. In addition, financial diaries track not only the value of financial transactions, but also the type of transaction, the use of formal and informal financial products, the gender of, and relationship with, the other party to the transaction, and the location where the transaction took place.

In closing the training program, the Assistant Governor, Corporate Affairs, Ms. Elizabeth Genia, reiterated, “The financial diaries project would contribute to national government development objectives and PNG’s vision 2050 as it would inform about the existing financial behavior and use of financial products by the majority of the vulnerable low income population.” Ms. Genia also emphasized the critical role that field researchers would play in this project as they would engage with the respondents on a daily basis over a period of 40 weeks.

The training was facilitated by Mr. Jonathan Sibley, a consultant of MFO.  The project team pilot tested the survey instruments in the 9-Mile settlement in Port Moresby. The Project Manager and Data Analyst will be based in Port Moresby and six field researchers will be collecting data from men and women across households in each sampling location totaling to 264 households across three sites – Port Moresby, Goroka and Kimbe. The interim results of the survey are expected to be available mid-year, 2013.

PFIP is a Pacific-wide programme helping to provide sustainable financial services to low income households. It is a joint project of the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and has received additional support from AusAID and the European Union. The programme is based at the UNDPPacific Centre in Suva, Fiji.