The Government has crafted a National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS), which aims to improve the country’s financial system by 2020.
The goal of the NFIS is to create the conditions in which Jamaicans, particularly those who were previously underserved by the domestic financial system, are able to save safely and build up resilience against financial shocks, and firms are able to invest, grow and generate greater levels of wealth.
Speaking at the official launch at the Jamaica Conference Centre, on March 29, Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, said the strategy forms part of policies being pursued by the Government to achieve sustainable economic growth and development.
“The National Financial Inclusion Strategy is the Government’s commitment to create the enabling environment that makes it easier for Jamaicans to save, invest, to do business and obtain relevant financial products and information to empower themselves. Financial inclusion is about prosperity and sustainable economic growth,” he said.
He said the strategy is the output of 16 ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) in the public sector as well as members in the private sector and non-governmental organisations.
Mr. Shaw said there are 53 action items under the National Financial Inclusion Strategy, adding that for each action item, a ministry, department or agency of Government has been named as the primary entity charged with the responsibility of implementing it.
The Minister noted that the reforms outlined in the Strategy are structured around four main pillars – Financial Access and Usage, Financial Resilience, Financing for Growth, and Responsible Finance – and a cross-cutting foundation of Supporting Infrastructure.
He said the Strategy has set as one of its impact indicators, the goal of achieving an increase in the percentage of total private-sector credit extended to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to 11 per cent.
“Achieving this goal requires us to create an ecosystem for venture capital and the use of non-traditional collateral as security for financial transactions. MSMEs must become bankable, so that they demonstrate to the owners of capital that they are creditworthy,” he argued.
He said the Strategy requires the delivery of capacity-building programmes to MSMEs by the public sector to improve the bankability of MSMEs.
“The strategy seeks to empower Jamaican businesses and individuals through practical steps, such as improved credit reporting and the establishment of a consumer protection regime for services provided by deposit-taking institutions and providers of microcredit facilities,” he added.
In his remarks, Governor, Bank of Jamaica, Brian Wynter, said the Strategy has 11 Impact Indicators which are to be achieved by 2020.
He pointed out that they are based on key thematic areas of retail payments and financial infrastructure, consumer protection and financial capability, MSME finance and agricultural finance, and housing finance.
Chair, Stakeholder Advisory Group, Earl Jarrett, said Jamaica joins more than 50 countries that have developed a National Financial Inclusion Strategy.
A National Financial Inclusion Council has been established to oversee the implementation of the Strategy.
The Council, to be chaired by Minister Shaw, will foster a public-private partnership by engaging members of the private sector and non-governmental organisations through a Stakeholder Advisory Group. The Council had its first meeting today (March 29).
The body charged with coordinating the actual implementation of the Strategy is the Financial Inclusion Steering Committee, chaired by the Governor of the Bank of Jamaica.
Cabinet approved the National Financial Inclusion Strategy in May 2016.
For further information, persons can contact the technical secretariat at: firstname.lastname@example.org or at 932-4145.
Article by: Chris Patterson
Photo from: www.jis.gov.jm