GOVERNOR MR LOI M. BAKANI, CMG
MiBANK ESA’ALA AGENTS TRAINING GRADUATION CEREMONY
26 AUGUST 2016
Good afternoon and thank you for the invitation.
Extending financial services to the people especially to women and youth is what I wanted to encourage in PNG and I am grateful to see it grow with our partner financial institutions.
We started this journey knowing that we have a population of over 8 million people, 80 percent of which live in the rural areas, so isolated like Esa’ala and in the Highlands region where there are no financial services available.
In 2009 and 2010 we had only one licensed micro bank and I wanted to create second tier financial institutions to cater for the little people, defined as small income earners.
We started the Wau Micro Bank as a pilot project, and due to high demand for financial services, mainly deposits and loans, the Central Bank licensed them as a financial institution. This bank is now called MiBank. Since then we now have 5 micro banks, one of them is the Women’s Micro Bank, purposely to serve women.
As business entities, financial institutions find it costly to open branches or sub-branches in rural areas. So when you have any of these bank agencies in rural areas you must look after them, take ownership and keep maintaining them so that they can continue to provide the services that you need.
Together with our partner financial institutions in PNG, we are driving financial literacy trainings. And as trainers you must go out to your areas and teach people how to save and where to save. We are targeting women and I am very happy that this training is targeted to women and youths.
I made a commitment in 2013 to reach 1 million new bank accounts, and 50% of that will be for women. We are close to attaining this goal.
We are also targeting children through our “Young Minds Savings Campaign” by teaching them the basics of how to save money and budget, and that there are licensed and regulated financial institutions that they can use to save for their future. The campaign is conducted together with our partner financial institutions through visitation to schools, and we assist them in opening new bank accounts. MiBank and the other partner financial institutions have been partnering with us with these training.
In July this year we hosted a Financial Inclusion Expo in Mt Hagen, and we had a record of over 30,000 people that attended the 2 days expo. We brought together all financial institutions and other partner institutions like mobile phone companies, to showcase their products and other services for the people to learn about and help them open new bank accounts. Financial Literacy sessions were also conducted by these stakeholders on their respective products/services, in addition basic themes on savings, loans, budgeting and investments.
There are many new products that financial institutions offer, but given the geographical features of our country, mobile phone banking appears to be the best option to reach our rural unbanked population.
The Honourable member for Esa’ala, Mr. Davis Steven has done the right thing by approaching the right institution to conduct this training for you. Given the commitment and drive already shown by the Esa’ala community, I believe there will be more positive changes in the area and to people’s lives. This is the start of a journey for you women of Esa’ala and youths of Alotau. I urged you to stay focus on this journey.
I have a big ambition to plan for a financial inclusion exposition by sea for this maritime province. We are at the preliminary stage of our plan to host the expo and we will be talking to the Governor of the province and his provincial administration to make sure this plan is carried out.
Finally, my congratulations to you all the participants in this training conducted by MiBank. I urge you to take back what you have learnt and continue the training in your respective communities. I would also like to thank MiBank for being a very strong partner in the drive for Financial Inclusion and we will continue this partnership as we go forward in providing financial literacy and education training to the people of this country.
Thank you and God bless.