Tuesday 2019-09-17

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‘EMASWATI NOT TAKING ADVANTAGE OF FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS’ BENEFITS’

By Bahle Gama | 2019-05-16

Minister of Finance Neal Rijkenberg has noted a lack of understanding of formal financial products and services.

This has seen most people continuously failing to take advantage of benefits offered by financial institutions.

The minister said this during the launch of FinScope Eswatini National consumer survey held at Royal Villas yesterday morning.

He said the key driving point for the financial inclusion agenda was to ensure the utilisation of the financial system to positively impact all-inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction by focusing on the finance needs of the bottom-of-the-pyramid segments of the population, the MSMEs and farmers.

 “The vision aims to increase the depth of financial inclusion, growing the percentage of adults with access to two or more formal products from 43 per cent (FinScope 2014) to 75 per cent, and reducing those excluded from 27 per cent to 15 per cent, by 2022.

“This could be done by growing mobile money and remittances, deepening bank reach, getting credit basics right, ensuring risk management products are available and enabling alternative channels to serve the poor,” he said.

He said this financial capability would provide detailed data on financial knowledge, attitudes and behaviours to provide evidence to inform the development of the national financial consumer education strategy for the Kingdom of Eswatini.

“We intend to deepen the financial sector by addressing the constraints that act as barriers without compromising financial stability,” he said.

He noted that the FinScope Eswatini report of 2014 indicated that 65 per cent of the local adult population was using the formal financial services and products, and that since then a lot has been achieved as new developments have emerged.

These include mobile financial services where there has been a rapid uptake of the digital financial services which include the e-wallet, the instant money, prepaid card, MomoPay and the e-Mali, remittance payments, which introduced the remittance transfers where the banks enter into partnership with the retail and the postal services to provide financial services as well as the  no frill bank accounts  whereby banks introduce low cost bank products for the financial inclusion target groups, to mention a few.

The minister added that access to financial services was not an end in itself, but a means to facilitate economic resilience for people and these might requiremore financial inclusion research, support for more in-depth analysis on the interventions with the view to determine the correlation between the financial products and the impact on the people’s lives, financial consumer education which is the provision of structured and relevant programmes to create financial knowledge and also encourage good financial behaviour for the financial system to impact on poverty reduction and financial infrastructure.

This is with intent to create an environment that will address the imperfect market conditions that constrain access to affordable financial services, including productive credit to MSMEs and farmers. 

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