The Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), Hon. Nathaniel R. Patray, III has underscored the importance of financial inclusion to economic growth and poverty alleviation. Executive Governor Patray said financial inclusion plays a critical role in reducing poverty because access to financial services helps individuals, families, and businesses to invest in income-generating activities and save for the future. Despite this, Hon. Patray said only 36% of Liberians access financial services, including bank accounts and mobile money and, worse still, only 28% of women and 27% of the poorest 40% of the population.
Although the statistics on financial inclusion appeared gloomy, The CBL Executive Governor expressed confidence that a coordinated National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) could reverse the trend. He said the 2019 – 2024 Strategy, which is about to be launched, builds on the results of the National Strategy, that expired in 2018 and the existing FSDIP as well as the Government’s Pro Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development.
While upbeat about the prospects of a National Financial Inclusion Strategy the CBL Executive Governor stressed the importance for ‘all hands to be on deck’. He said:
“The National Financial Inclusion Strategy is only a strategy, the success of which is contingent ultimately on actions to be taken by all the stakeholders”.
The CBL Executive Governor made the remarks during the validation workshop prior to the launch of the 2019-2024 National Financial Inclusion Strategy held at the Central Bank of Liberia on Wednesday July 3rd.
Also speaking during the NFIS Stakeholder Validation Workshop, was Dr. Nicholas Smith, a World Bank Financial Sector Specialist who heads the World Bank Technical support Team that is supporting the Government to develop the current National Financial Inclusion Strategy. He also stressed the importance of financial inclusion, which he said was all about having a bank account, access to loans and the use of mobile money. He said financial inclusion enables people to save for retirement, invest in their business, save for a new purchase and insure against risk and was therefore critical to national development.
With the final NFIS Stakeholder Validation Workshop now out of the way, the stage is set for the launch of this all-important policy document and its implementation through the concerted actions of all stakeholders.