Governors from various Central Banks in the Pacific with the Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti and Reverend Lenny Solomona at the PIRI Forums opening.
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – THURSDAY 07 JUNE 2018: “We all share the common goal that no one is left behind as we make progress, and for vulnerable groups to equally share in our progress must be ensured.”
This was the challenge from the Minister of Finance, Sili Epa Tuioti to the participants of the 4th Pacific Islands Regional Initiatives (PIRI) High Level Forum currently in progress at the Taumeasina Island Resort in Samoa.
The theme for the meeting is ‘Fintech For Financial Inclusion’
Sili delivered the keynote address and he emphasized that “inclusive development without financial inclusion will be incomplete.”
He believes that all countries in the region are highly committed to inclusive development, and global recognition has been growing over the years on the importance of financial inclusion placed in development.
The participants of the two day meetings include all 6 members of PIRI from the Pacific and 2 Caribbean countries who have shown interest to join PIRI.
It is understood that under PIRI, space for dialogue with service providers, Government ministries, academic, private sector and other stakeholders in and outside the finance space is much broader.
“I hope this transformation will result in more tangible value adding for the targeted beneficiaries in our region,” said Sili.
Financial inclusion is a topic of high importance for the Pacific islands, as evident when the Forum for Economic Ministers Meeting in 2009 adopted the 2020 Money Pacific Goals. The goals include:
- All children to receive financial education through core curricular
- All adults to have access to financial education.
- Simple and transparent consumer protection to be in place and
- To half the number of households without access to basic financial services.
The Minister was most interested in how the individual countries perform in advancing these goals.
He said this meeting needs to discuss this, and if there is no progress, then countries need to strategize and learn from others experience and move forward with these goals so that no one is left behind.
Citing Samoa’s vision for an improved quality of life for all, he said the strategy is accelerating sustainable development and broadening opportunities for all.
He made reference to Samoa’s budget theme ‘The Right Path’ indicating that the budget seeks to strike the right balance between all competing priorities and demands that different groups in the community hold, to ensure that we are doing whatever we can to respond to the needs of our community, to have access to essential services, to improve opportunities for all and to build for our future and this includes financial inclusion.
“And to do this in a way that is physically responsible and sustainable, the right path is the continuation of the course we have set over recent years, that response to the community aspirations here and now while at the same time strengthening our foundations for tomorrow,” he said.
The important aspect of this meeting is finding ways for people to have access to a wide range of available financial services especially the low income groups.
According to the Samoa Central Bank Governor, Maiava Atelina Aiunuu-Auelua, the meeting is to discuss and find ways to use technology to deliver financial services to the people, especially those in the rural communities, but at the same time look at challenges of security within such services.
The two day meeting will also discuss some of the issues such as: Fintech to close the financial gap in the Pacific, Challenges of moving from physical cash to digital, and Women’s financial inclusion and economic empowerment.