by Quinton Alomp – EM TV, Port Moresby
Bank of Papua New Guinea Deputy Governor, Benny Popoitai, said financial inclusion is the way to achieve a wealthy and healthy nation by 2050.
Popoitai says financial inclusion is a worldwide agenda, but in PNG it is progressing slowly with a lot of challenges ahead.
He said in order to have a wealthy and healthy nation by 2050, as a pillar under the country’s Vision 2050, people have to be financially literate.
“There’s no other way, people must be educated on how to budget and save their money.
“When the majority of people participate in the process of economic development, it will sustain economic growth.” Popoitai said.
According to Popoitai, of the total PNG population of 7.5 million, about 20 percent have a personal bank account and participate in the formal banking system.
He made these remarks when visiting the rural Baiyer electorate in Western Highlands Province last week, where he witnessed the graduation of 3,000 local people who underwent Microfinance courses on how to budget and save money.
Despite booming economic growth over the last 10 years, mainly from extractive industries, social indicators like access to clean water and infant and maternal mortality are some of the worst in the Pacific.
The task to drive financial literacy in rural PNG is huge.
In 2012, with the support from Bank of PNG, AusAID and the Asian Development Bank, a microfinance expansion project was born.
With the aim to financially educate 120,000 people by 2017, a team is moving around the country, so far, training over 47,000 people, about 27,000 of whom are women.
Project Director and Manager Financial Systems Development at BPNG, George Awap said about 50 percent of those who underwent financial training were women.
“We offer six modules in this training but only two were taught. They are savings and budgeting.” Awap said.
Microfinance Expansion project Manager, Jacob Gop, said the project started in 2012 and will end in 2017.