Remarks of Ms. Lizbeth Cullity, United Nations Resident Coordinator at the National financial inclusion strategy workshop, Tanoa Hotel

Nov 3, 2015

Honorable Governor of the Central Bank, Maiava Atalina Enari, 

Reverend Lealaoo Polutea

Excellencies and Distinguished guests, 

On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) I would like to thank the Central Bank of Samoa for convening this workshop. A special thank you to our development partners (Australia, European Union and New Zealand) for their very generous support to the UNDP/UNCDF Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme.

The aim of this workshop is to develop a national strategic framework for advancing financial inclusion in Samoa. The intention is to build an inclusive financial system that best serves all members of society, especially those who have a low-income, in their pursuit of economic prosperity through including them in the formal sector. 

In Samoa, more than one third of adults have no access to financial services.  As a result, a substantial part of the population operates within the informal sector. 

Interestingly - and contrary to the global trends – a slightly higher proportion of Samoan women (40%) are banked than men (38%). This is most probably due to the higher proportion of women receiving remittance income. 

At global level, 2.5 billion adults - more than half of the world’s working adults - are excluded from formal financial services. This is most acute among low-income populations in emerging and developing economies, where approximately 80% of poor people do not have access to formal financial services. 

It is now a well-established fact that giving low income households (and particularly women) access to formal financial services can make a critical contribution to reducing poverty and addressing inequality. Evidence from many parts of the world indicates that when more people have access to services such as secure savings, lower-cost remittances, affordable insurance and appropriate forms of credit, it can contribute to more inclusive growth and help foster domestic resource mobilization, increase productive capacity, and reduce vulnerability.

UNDP and UNCDF work together on the issue of financial inclusion in many parts of the world. Based on our experience we know that increased levels of financial inclusion – through the extension of savings, credit, insurance, and payment services – can contribute significantly to more sustainable and equitable economic growth.

We also know that financial inclusion is achieved when all individuals and businesses have access to, and can effectively use, a broad range of financial services that are provided responsibly, and at reasonable cost, by sustainable institutions in a well-regulated environment.

It is important to note that the private sector can play a key role in developing and delivering inclusive and sustainable financial services globally, as well as in the Pacific.

As you all know, last September the member states of the United Nations have unanimously adopted the new development agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs envision financial inclusion as a pathway to achieve sustainable development.

Poverty is a multidimensional concept made up of several factors. In most of the cases poverty is more than the lack of income and resources to ensure sustainable livelihood.  Its manifestations include poor health, lack of education, inadequate living standard, limited access to basic services, social discrimination and exclusion as well as the lack of participation in decision-making. 

There is growing consensus that economic growth must be inclusive and promote equality to reduce poverty.  

Goal 8 particularly focuses on promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all. It clearly recognises the importance of strengthening the capacity of domestic financial institutions to encourage and expand access to banking, insurance and financial services for all.

We are extremely excited about this workshop and the great opportunity we have to design a national strategy for financial inclusion. 

Thank you for joining us today, and we look forward to working with you to expand access to financial services for all Pacific Islanders.

Faafetai.

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