• An initiative to bring banking to barrios

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    Many people keep money at home, not in banks

    THE Financial Inclusion Steering Committee (FISC), which oversees the implementation of the National Strategy for Financial Inclusion (NSFI) that was launched in July 2015, could soon become a permanent institution. President Aquino has issued on June 2 an executive order (EO208) for this purpose.

    The move aims to offer people nationwide easy access to financial services and enable them to contribute to the country’s broad-based economic growth.

    A 2015, national baseline survey on financial inclusion had found that almost 200 municipalities (12 percent of the 1,634 municipalities across the country) have no access to a bank or other financial services. Besides, more than 43 percent of the economically active adult population keeps their savings at home, while a larger section that borrows money get it from informal sources. Also, among small and medium enterprises, only 3.5 percent seek bank loans or a formal line of credit.

    The survey had also found the retail sector is very slow in adopting new technology, as only 1 percent of the some 2.5 billion retail payment transactions processed each month in the country is done by digital means.

    The EO directs the FISC to align various financial inclusion related policies and programs, ensure effective monitoring of the progress of these initiatives, and collaborate with stakeholders in both public and private sectors on various agenda that fall under the NSFI areas of policy and regulation, financial education, consumer protection, data and measurement, and financial inclusion advocacy.

    In this work, inter-agency technical working groups as well as a technical secretariat from the BSP will support the FISC that had spearheaded the establishment of the NSFI to fulfill a key reform agenda under the Philippine Development Plan.

    The NSFI, which developed through a consultative process, serves as the guidepost for public and private sector stakeholders to systematically accelerate financial inclusion in the country. It defines the national vision for financial inclusion and provides a platform for public and private sector coordination to ensure synergy of efforts to achieve shared objectives.

    With the effective implementation of the NSFI BSP hopes that a large number of people will benefit from gaining access to financial services and contribute to broad-based growth.

    The FISC consists of government agencies that were instrumental in crafting the NSFI. It is chaired by BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. Members include the heads of the Department of Finance, Department of Education, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Budget and Management, National Economic and Development Authority, Insurance Commission, Commission on Filipinos Overseas, Securities and Exchange Commission, Philippine Statistics Authority, Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp., and Cooperative Development Authority. Heads of other agencies may be invited as FISC members as necessary.

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