March 8, 2018
A draft National Financial Inclusion Strategy will be presented to representatives of key stakeholders involved in national financial inclusion efforts in Vanuatu at a workshop to be held at the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu on Thursday 9th March 2018.
The Reserve Bank of Vanuatu in partnership with the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) developed the draft 2018 – 2023 policy document last year. The document was sent to stakeholder for their views and now enters the final stage – validation.
Once finalized, the NFIS will provide the road map of the financial inclusion journey with the ultimate aim of improving access to and usage of appropriate financial services by the underserved adult population and micro small and medium enterprises in Vanuatu. It provides an important means to improve livelihoods, strengthen financial resilience and provides an avenue for the ni-Vanuatu to better able to save for the future, invest to generate income and insure against unforeseen events.
Speaking on the importance of the strategy, Governor Simeon Malachi Athy said the strategy provides the means to achieving the vision of creating an enabling environment that will lead to enriching the livelihoods of the people and MSMEs in Vanuatu through more inclusive financial services and consumer empowerment and protection. The NFIS fits well with the Vanuatu Government priorities as set out in the National Development Plans.
“We hope to enhance access and usage of financial services, foster financial deepening, strengthen financial competencies of financial services users, facilitate consumer protection and enable a more concerted and comprehensive approach to address financial exclusion. It has four key priority areas that are critical to achieving progress in the financial inclusion agenda in Vanuatu,” said Governor Athy.
PFIP Deputy Programme Manager Krishnan Narasimhan said an inclusive financial system is only possible in an enabling policy and regulatory environment and commended the efforts made by the RBV to ensure that innovations had room to develop.
“The Vanuatu strategy encompasses a multi-sector approach and also recognises the importance for financial education in developing the financial competencies of Ni-Vanuatu to enable understanding and use of financial products,” he said.
Some of the goals of the strategy are to ensure 65% of adults will be active users of formal or semi-formal financial services, of which half will be women and also calls for a suite of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) business financing products to be available, which are tailored also to the needs of businesses led by women and youth.
The goals were developed following the findings of the PFIP funded Financial Services Demand Side Survey for Vanuatu which found that 37% of adults aged 15 years and over have a commercial bank account, while another 10% access financial services from other formal providers such as credit unions, microfinance, insurance, mobile money, or finance companies. 32% of adults were found to be excluded from both formal and informal financial services.
Last year PFIP also held workshops with market vendors, MSMEs and other relevant government departments to consult them on the digitization of some of governments payments, all feeding into the strategy now being finally presented.
Vanuatu is the sixth Pacific nation that PFIP has helped to develop national financial inclusion strategies.
PFIP is a Pacific-wide programme that has helped 1.78 million low-income Pacific islanders gain access to financial services and financial education. It achieves these results by funding innovation with financial services and delivery channels, supporting policy and regulatory initiatives, and empowering consumers.
PFIP operates from the UNDP Pacific Office in Suva, Fiji and has offices in Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Solomon Islands. It is jointly administered by the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and receives funding from the Australian Government, the European Union and the New Zealand Government.