The Government of Papua New Guinea, the European Union (EU) and the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) are partnering on the financial inclusion component of the EU-funded Rural Economic Development Programme Phase 2 (RED 2), targeting the Highlands Region’s seven provinces.
With the Government's emphasis and efforts in improving service delivery to and income earning opportunities for PNG's rural population, the Acting Secretary for Department of National Planning and Monitoring, Ms Juliana Kubak acknowledges the important partnership between EU and UN specifically to increase financial inclusion for the low-income segment in the Highlands Region and to foster improved relations between farmers, farmers’ groups and traders/processors/transporters through better financing access. This Euro 6 million financial inclusion component is part of a Euro 32 million agreement with Government of PNG to support rural infrastructures – road rehabilitation, financial inclusion, and agriculture value chain development—in the Highlands in particular, to ensure maximum impact on poverty reduction and sustainable economic growth.
Bank of PNG Governor Loi Bakani welcomed the emphasis that Government and development partners are giving to the Highlands Region. “Over 90 percent of economically active population in the Region do not have access to financial services. That is why we need to incentivise financial institutions and mobile operators to increase services here.” Governor Loi Bakani also emphasised the importance of consumer protection guidelines and the need to work together with provincial governments, civil society and church groups to adequately educate low-income and disadvantaged consumers.
Head of the UN system in PNG, Resident Coordinator Roy Trivedy said “with close to 20 percent of PNG population banked only in the last few years, access to financial services has become their gateway to the formal economy. We are actively working with partners to build the digital systems needed to help enable the majority of PNG’s population to access the formal economy and share gains made through economic growth.”
PFIP aims to add one million Pacific Islanders to the formal financial sector by 2019 by spearheading policy and regulatory initiatives, facilitating access to appropriate financial services and delivery channels and by strengthening financial competencies and consumer empowerment.
PFIP is a Pacific-wide programme helping low-income households gain access to quality and affordable financial services and financial education. It is jointly managed by the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and receives funding from the Australian Government, the European Union and the New Zealand Government.
PFIP operates from the UNDP Pacific Centre in Suva, Fiji and has offices in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. It will open an office in Samoa in early 2015.