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International Interest in Pacific Financial Education

7 December 2010

International Interest in Pacific Financial Education

INTERNATIONAL demand for a Pacific-themed calendar which includes financial and budgeting tips in Samoan and Tongan has rocketed, leading its producers to double the print run for the 2011 edition.

The calendar is a spin-off from earlier work to reduce the cost of remittances, led by the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs and including the World Bank, Reserve Bank and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (NZ Aid Programme).

The World Bank estimates remittances to the Pacific, principally from NZ, Australia and the US, cost remitters $US90 million in fees each year. The first phase of the project saw costs of up to 25 percent of the value of each remittance lowered to below seven percent. The website was also set up to allow remitters to compare costs.

The project team has this year produced 70,000 MoneyPACIFIC calendars, featuring a different financial tip each month, a comparison of remittance costs by provider and information from the Red Cross about what to do in a disaster. Most have already been snapped up. Samoa and Tonga requested 20,000 each and Australia 10,000. The rest have been distributed in New Zealand. This is double last year’s print run of 35,000.

“There is a recognised need for greater financial awareness among Pacific communities,” project leader Kim Hailwood says.

“At MoneyPACIFIC we originally thought about handing out an A4-sized sheet with financial tips. But then we realised that a calendar would be in the household for a year, referenced mainly by mothers who largely manage the household and family finances. It has proved very popular.”

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The calendars don’t just offer advice: they also provide an opportunity to actually make some money.

“Last year we made them available to schools, churches and community groups, which were able to sell them for a nominal $2. With the money raised from the sale groups bought school library books and sporting gear, and paid for youth and church activities,” Ms Hailwood said.

Pacific communities also had the option this year of contributing to the calendar through a photo competition run in NZ, Samoa and Tonga. Samoan and Tongan versions of the 2011 calendar feature not only the language but also images specific to each country.

Financial and budgeting advice in the 2010 calendars has been supported and expanded in a public awareness campaign focussed on remittances and teaching children good money skills, running on (New Zealand) Pacific radio stations 531PI and NiuFM.

Meanwhile MoneyPACIFIC’s work is gaining increasing international recognition. Pacific Island Forum economic ministers who met recently in Niue agreed to promote the SendMoneyPacific website in their home countries, and share experiences in improving financial awareness, especially in relation to remittance costs.

The Australian Treasury notes that it is now much cheaper to remit money to the Pacific from New Zealand than from Australia. Remitters to Samoa face the largest differentials in costs, with average costs from Australia almost twice that if remitting from New Zealand.

Remittances are an important source of household income and foreign exchange for Pacific Island Countries, providing income directly to households to improve living standards. About three-quarters of Pacific peoples living in New Zealand send money home to help family members in the Pacific area.


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