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Vanuatu to bank 76,000 people by 2015

Vanuatu to bank 76,000 people by 2015

Stakeholders met in Port Vila on August 9-10 and agreed to work together to provide responsive financial services and financial literacy to 76,000 previously un-banked and underserved people in Vanuatu by the end of 2015. Attendees of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy Workshop, organized by the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu, included a wide cross section of government, private sector, NGO and development partner representatives. The gathering reached consensus on an action agenda that included a 3-point strategy that will:

i. Strengthen national coordination and monitor progress through the formation of a multi-stakeholder National Financial Inclusion Taskforce;
ii. Conduct research on financial access and demand, with emphasis on financial competency, microinsurance and increasing outreach to women and youth, and;
iii. Enhance financial literacy and consumer protection by introducing financial education in schools and strengthening legislation on client protection and market conduct.
In his opening statement the Minister for Finance and Economic Management, Honorable Moana Carcassses Kalosil, said that 81% of the population of Vanuatu have no access to basic financial services such as savings accounts, credit or insurance services.

He went on to say, “I strongly believe that the challenge of financial services access and the empowerment of women and low income groups will be achieved by effective work partnership and cooperation between the Reserve Bank, financial institutions, the government, development partners and all other relevant institutions.”

In his keynote address, Reserve Bank of Vanuatu Governor Odo Tevi emphasized that financial inclusion requires innovative thinking, and that all stakeholders in the economy have a role to play in this. He also recognized the importance of empowering and protecting clients to enable them to make the right decisions in an increasingly complex monetized economy.

“The Reserve Bank is currently working with other related Government ministries on this. It is highly expected that the application of a proper consumer protection mechanism will enhance confidence and trust and encourage low-income earners and rural dwellers to access readily-available financial services,” Governor Tevi said.

Governor Tevi noted that the RBV stood ready and committed to promote a coordinated partnership approach between stakeholders to enhance efficiency and to achieve greater financial inclusion in Vanuatu. The Governor also thanked all the national stakeholders for their active participation and acknowledged the support of the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP), Alliance for Financial Inclusion and AusAID. The Asian Development Bank together with the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Solomon Islands also shared their respective experience with participants.

This workshop to prepare the medium term financial inclusion strategy for Vanuatu is the first for the country and the third in the Pacific, after Fiji and Solomon Islands, also supported by PFIP.

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 funding support from the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and the European Union. The programme is based at the UNDP Pacific Centre in Suva Fiji

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