The year 2019 can be summarised in a few words; In the face of challenges, we made significant progress. I thank the Chairman of the CEFI Board and BPNG Governor Loi M Bakani, the board members, management and staff of CEFI for their commitment and dedication to deliver on our purpose – to help Papua New Guineans seize opportunity at every stage of their financial lives.
While there is much work to do and there may be further challenges ahead, we ended 2019 stronger and better able to serve our financial inclusion agenda.
We started 2019 with the launch of the Financial Inclusion Policy. The policy gave CEFI the mandate to work with all the government departments to deliver financial inclusion in the country. In May 2019, CEFI conducted a workshop with government departments, to educate them about the policy and to seek their support in the implementation of the policy.
This is line with the conclusion of Microfinance Expansion Project on June 30 2019. The key activities under Microfinance Expansion project amalgamated into CEFI include; (1) Supporting microfinance industry (2) Promoting financial inclusion training (3) Working on standards of micro finance industry.The next step was to work towards involving provincial governments to integrate financial inclusion into provincial development plans. CEFI signed two Memorandum of Understanding partnership with West New Britain in August and Milne Bay Province in November.
In parallel development, I congratulate the Bank of Papua New Guinea on investing in innovative initiatives that will expand the access of financial products and services. These initiatives include the Regulatory Sandbox, Retail Electronic Payment System and Digital Identification Project which are key drivers of the financial inclusion. CEFI in partnership with BPNG will promote these initiatives to ensure wider reach in country.
In addition, CEFI and Market for Village Farmers Project have signed a Memorandum of Agreement to design new agriculture lending products which will be a trendsetter in agriculture lending and the future of Papua New Guinea.
These are the key achievements of 2019. In 2020, and we are moving with a lot of vigour and hope to expand the frontiers in financial inclusion for Papua New Guinea.
CEFI will increase government engagement program with greater involvement of government departments and provincial governments. We plan to roll out our work to the four provinces; East New Britain, East Sepik, Morobe and Western Highlands. This is in addition to Milne Bay and West New Britain Provinces.
We would also like to concentrate on delivery of financial inclusion training using the digital technology.
CEFI will launch courses online for micro finance professionals in the country, through an e-learning platform in partnership with Institute of Banking and Business Management (IBBM).
In conjunction, we will progress the improvement of Financial Education learning modules for our Financial Literacy and Financial Education training in the country. This coincides with our plan to incorporate financial education to primary and secondary schools curriculum with the commencement of a pilot by 2021.
CEFI plans to identify user-friendly mobile phone applications to make financial literacy and education easily available and accessible to citizens in the country.
Subsequently, we will set up a FINTECH incubator within CEFI office to support local innovators to participate in the regulatory sandbox and to harness the potential of FINTECH innovators to create applications and software that will improve the reach of financial education, products and services.
CEFI will actively participate in international dates for special events that promotes financial inclusion; Global Money Week, International Women’s Day, National Financial Inclusion Week and other key calendar events.
In conclusion, the Financial Inclusion Strategy launched in 2016 by the national government will end in 2020. It is important that we review what we have achieved and what we have not achieved, and to plan for the next 5 years for the financial inclusion strategy for this country.
We hope to start this process in June and launch the new five-year strategy in the last quarter of 2020.
I take this opportunity to express gratitude and appreciation to our partners in the finance service industry, stakeholders and the national media in championing Financial Inclusion agenda and we look forward to the continue the good work in 2020.