The four-year National Financial Inclusion Strategy (N.F.I.S.) launched by the government on Friday is a plan to ensure no one is left behind.
The N.F.I.S. was officially launched by the Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti to help low-income families and people most vulnerable in society to have better access to formal financial services.
To ensure the Strategy reaches all facets of society, the National Financial Inclusion Taskforce (N.F.I.T), has been set up, consisting of a fusion of public and private financial institutions.
The woman leading the charge as the Chairperson is the Governor of Central Bank of Samoa, Maiava Atalina Ainuu-Enari. Her vision for Samoa is to improve the lives of everyone.
“Our task is to roll out the strategies that were launched to make sure that in the next four years, as many people as we can are now coming into the form of formal financial services and having access to some form of financial service and be able to use it,” she said.
The Governor detailed the work the Central Bank has done to gain a better understanding of the constituents the strategy is geared towards helping.
“This work is a result of the survey we did back in 2014, and we tried to see where people are in having financial access to national services."
“As the Minister said, 39% of Samoan adults have bank accounts. The other 12% have some sort of access to financial services like loans from finance companies like N.P.F. So that means 49% of people don’t have bank accounts which means they have no access to formal services.”
The statistics show that women are among the most vulnerable groups.
“As a result of the survey, we found out that women are better managers of money than men, that is the outcome of the survey."
“Some women don’t even have jobs but or in their families, the men work or people work but they bring money to the women in the family and she’s the one who manages it."
“Sometimes she doesn’t have a bank account but she’s the one who manages the income that comes through her family. Women play a bigger role because we think that if they can manage that then it will be better to take their families out of poverty because they have that skill. Not many people are managing money. That’s why you end up with people over borrowing and not meeting their debt obligations because they live beyond their means. This work also goes together with the financial literacy program so that we educate our people."
“Based on those baseline statistics, the Central Bank was tasked with the role of financial inclusion, meaning, having everybody come into a form of financial services. We can’t do it alone, so we have to solicit the assistance of the stakeholders seen here today. All the commercial banks and ministry and government, civil societies and private institutions. "
“But access has a deeper meaning, not just having access to a bank account, its to make sure also that the right product is there to suit every individual need no matter what stage of financial status is whether your low income. The product sure be geared to serve the need of those people who were are trying to bring into the financial services.”
Now that the strategy has been officially launched, The N.F.I.T already has been big plans for its implementation.
“The Minister has given us a challenge to translate this into Samoan because most people who live in rural areas will benefit from it and its something that’s on going at the moment. We are translating the strategy in to Samoan and were also planning road shows as well as financial inclusion expos around the country to promote the strategy, so that as he rightly pointed out, it says all the right things but it doesn’t work if we don’t take it to the people who really need it.”
“We have a program that’s rolling out for young children."
“We feel that if we educate our young children today, they will grow up to be more responsible people and managing financial resources. The older generation are set in their own ways."
“But this is a long-term goal to have for the future of Samoa to manage finances. This is because people have so many things that require money and they can’t even afford it because they can’t budget.”