April 5, 2016
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Ni sa bula vinaka!
Thank you for traveling to Fiji to attend this very important regulatory workshop on inclusive insurance. It is my honor to speak to you today both in my capacity as the De
puty Governor of the Central Bank of the Solomon Islands, and as the Chair of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion’s Pacific Islands Regional Initiative.
There are many things I could talk about to i
llustrate the importance of our work addressing the unique constraints to financial inclusion in the Pacific Islands, and particularly the role of inclusive insurance in that effort. Today, however, I would like to start by telling the story of a family, living in a rural village, which lost their life savings and assets, along with some cherished memories, to a devastating fire. This loss was all the more disheartening because the family had no insurance coverage to help them recover.
The tragedy was sparked by an instance of unfortunate circumstance, as is often the case in these situations. At the western end of the island of Guadalcanal earlier this year, a young man needed to charge his mobile phone. He connected his charger directly to a 12-volt car battery, then retreated to his room for a nap. Sadly, the mobile phone overcharged and exploded. A fire broke out, and flames engulfed the house, before reducing it to rubble and ashes.
The family lost everything. A life’s worth of savings burnt and charred, forever gone in a matter of moments—no insurance plan in place to serve as a safety net.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This story could be told time and time again across our region’s rural villages where the lack of knowledge coupled with non-existent affordable insurance products pervades communities. According to the PFIP-AFI Pacific Islands Regional Initiative demand-side survey in 2015, in my home nation of the Solomon Islands, 93 percent of the adult population is uninsured. This can no longer be tolerated.
I am glad that we have convened here for the next three days to discuss how to best encourage inclusive insurance to those excluded for any reason. This challenge will not be easy. But it must be confronted.
It is time to educate our people. It is time for insurance providers to think outside the box. And it is time for new and affordable delivery channels to be identified, mitigating geographical problems that strain the delivery of viable financial services to Pacific Islanders.
Regulations must enable the growth of inclusive insurance. And unless the inclusive insurance products are public goods, there must be a business case for the providers.
From PIRI’s perspective, inclusive insurance has a place on the financial inclusion agenda that we, along with our development partners—especially the UNCDF-UNDP PFIP—and donor partners are working to advance. In fact, I urge all members of PIRI to outline specific targets to inclusive insurance in their commitments to the Maya Declaration—the AFI network’s initiative to unlock the economic and social potential of the 2 billion unbanked through increased financial inclusion.
I know my friend and colleague Eliki Boletawa will touch more on AFI, the Maya Declaration, and the history, mission and goals of PIRI in just a moment. And I look forward to hearing those words. In the meantime, allow me to say, as I stand here, I remain proud to be associated with this important initiative we call PIRI, and I want to reiterate that we are entirely committed to the cause of ensuring every Pacific Islander has access to affordable financial services.
On that note, I would like to conclude by once again thanking the UNCDF-UNDP PFIP for our partnership over the years. The technical support and encouragement that it has rendered to PIRI members is invaluable. I also would like to thank our donor partners, the Australian Government, the New Zealand Government and European Union, for the financial support that enables our partners to contribute toward progressing financial inclusion in the Pacific Islands.
Finally, before we delve into the details of what lies ahead of us in this week’s workshop, I urge all in attendance to learn as much as you can from the presenters and from the experiences of those who have implemented inclusive insurance in their countries. And please return home, and decide how best to apply this knowledge to increase inclusive insurance for the good of your people.
Once again, on behalf of PIRI, I welcome all of you to this workshop and I look forward to a successful outcome. Thank you.