Statement by Governor of Bank of PNG, Mr. Loi M. Bakani CMG at the Opening of the Financial Inclusion Exposition in Mt. Hagen, 15th July 2016.
[Speech in English but presented in Tok Pisin]
Acknowledging the presence of:
-Western Highlands Provincial Administrator
-Executive Officer from office of Governor, Hon. Paias Wingti
– Representatives of partner financial institutions
– People of Highlands region attending the Expo
Firstly, I want to welcome you all to the 3rd major Financial Inclusion Exposition hosted in our beautiful city of Mt. Hagen.
Secondly, on behalf of the Bank of PNG together with our partner Financial service providers, donors, telecommunication service providers, NGOs, Government agencies, our various program partners like church groups, media organisations, and other service providers, we would like to give you the people of our highlands region the opportunity over the 2 days to interact and engage with us and learn, sign up on the various services/products we provide and leave after the expo satisfied. We want you to start the journey of your lifetime that will see you change your way of life and improve or take you to another level. This is your opportunity that we bring to you.
Thirdly, we want to impart this awareness and knowledge of the various services and opportunities that are made available by our partners at the Expo to our children, through financial education and training. We are putting strong emphasis on our children because they are the future of our country and we do not want them to miss the opportunity, like our adult generation.
Finally, we want our mothers and women to have the opportunity to further their skills and knowledge so they can take their income earning activities that they are involved in now, to another level. We also place great emphasis on women as they are commonly known for being the best in money management.
Now, what does financial inclusion mean? Why do we drive financial inclusion in PNG? Why do we use expos like this as a means for us to drive financial inclusion?
Financial Inclusion simply means to have access to any form of financial services and products that are available with different financial services providers, so that having access to these services/products can enable you to improve your livelihood. These services can be in the form of bank account, advisory services, financial education training, mobile phone banking service, and others. I mentioned the word opportunity more frequently earlier, because knowing and realizing opportunities available is also a product that you can access through financial inclusion activities such as this expo.
We are driving financial inclusion because of the fact that 70-80% of our population does not have access to any form of financial services. In PNG, majority of our population live in rural areas, and are involved in subsistence farming, producing for own consumption and also for cash income. But if financial services are not available, then that cash income cannot be held in secured place such as in banks. So they are not financially included. We aim to reduce this percentage of the unbanked population and bring them to the formal financial service sector.
But be aware that if you do not have a savings account with any of the financial institutions that are licensed and supervised by the Bank of PNG, do not be mis-led by anyone who promises to pay you interest rate in access of current market rates if you place your cash with them. These types of people or arrangements are money schemes, and you will lose your money if you place it with them. Its not a safe investment unlike if you place it in a formal savings account with the financial institutions that we licensed, and some of them are present here at this expo.
Another basis for driving financial inclusion is to take advantage of the focus of Government on provincial and district development through infrastructure developments like roads, bridges, telecommunication, ports, and others. These developments are creating an enabling environment for us in the financial services sector to be able to rollout our services to reach the people in the rural areas and districts. We acknowledge that travelling to access financial services in urban towns are expensive and time consuming. But at least we are already making headways because of modern telecommunication and technology like mobile phones and internet, so we are taking advantage of these infrastructures to develop products that people can access financial services where they are and also overcome these high costs of travel.
At this juncture, I would like to emphasis that providing these financial services to our people also comes at a costs to those that provide them. So its important that wherever and when these services are provided, whether it be a bank branch or agency in rural area or in town, we must respect and care for them. We should embrace them and tell ourselves how lucky we are to have such services made available to us. Because if they are closed or cease to be made available to us, not only we are going backwards, but we must be prepared to pay the cost of long distance travel to access the same financial service.
The way ahead to achieve our goal of reducing this 70-80% unbanked segment of our population remains a big challenge for us in the financial services sector. But based on our experience and given our firm commitment to drive financial inclusion and ensure more and more people can have access to financial services, it is not an impossible task.
Once again, I urged you all mainly those who do not have any form of engagement with our financial service providers, especially our women and children, to make use of this opportunity right before you, to engage by enquiring, learn from the training to be hosted here at the expo and get financially included with accessing any products and services available from our financial services providers.
Enjoy the 2 days here at the FI Expo, and wish you success in your financial exploration.
Thank you olgeta and God bless.