Findings from the Demand-Side Survey released at the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu (RBV) Economic Symposium has shown that 32 % of Ni-Vanuatu adults are completely unbanked and excluded from financial services.

The findings of the Demand-Side Survey were released along with the Micro, Small & Medium Enterprise (MSME Survey) yesterday during the RBV Economic Symposium at the Le Lagon Warwick Hotel.

Prompted by the unprecedented findings, Acting Prime Minister, Ham Lini stated on behalf of the Prime Minister that the Government and the Reserve Bank, as regulators will intervene on policies to address the financial inclusion agenda in Vanuatu.

The 32% places Vanuatu lower when compared to 27% in Fiji and 31% in Solomon Islands.

In terms of investments, the RBV SME Survey indicated that a high percentage of businesses in Vanuatu accessed informal financial, rather than formal financing sources for business start-ups.

This year’s theme for the Financial Symposium is “Enhancing Financial Inclusion for a More Equitable, Inclusive and Sustainable Economic Development”.

The aim of the symposium is to generate healthy dialogue on the main economic issues facing the country to formulate appropriate policies to address these issues.

Reacting to the findings of the surveys, the Acting Prime Minister called on the financial institution to continue to be responsive to the needs of the ni-Vanuatu women in gender-specific policies or products.

“The Government recognizes that the agenda of the financial inclusion must form an important component of an inclusive and sustainable development in Vanuatu,” Acting Prime Minister, Ham Lini, stated in his opening remarks.

He calls for a stronger partnership between the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu and the Government on the important agenda.

“We must make financial inclusion every one’s business and need to work together,” said the Acting PM.

“I call on the financial institutions to continue to be responsive to the needs of the ni-Vanuatu women in gender-specific policies or products.

“Imagine the transformation it will bring if all women are empowered financially as men.”

Findings of the survey also reveal that while men own more bank accounts in Vanuatu, women are found to be more active in using banking services than men.

Similarly women own 20% of the MSME businesses in Vanuatu so there is still a gender gap concerning bringing financial inclusion to women in Vanuatu.

There has been much discussion on the importance of coordination amongst policy makers in order to boost and sustain growth and disseminate its benefits to all citizens of Vanuatu.

The Bank has followed with interest the need to promote financial inclusion in coordination with the Government and other stakeholders.

Therefore, in 2016, the Bank undertook the two major surveys on both individuals (Demand-Side Survey and Micro, Small & Medium Enterprise (MSME) Survey) to gather evidence-based information on the need to further enhance the agenda of financial inclusion in Vanuatu.

According to Governor Simeon Athy, “Financial inclusion should be viewed as the linchpin through which small island countries like Vanuatu can advance their economic development”, and the symposium provides the platform where the Bank and its key stakeholders meet to better shape the future strategy of the program.

Launching the two reports, the symposium discusses the key findings to assist the Bank in preparing Vanuatu’s second set of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy.

This will also facilitate evidenced-based policy strategy and targeting and assist in monitoring financial inclusion progress in Vanuatu.

The MSME survey was undertaken to develop ways forward about what the Bank plays in MSME development agenda particularly the financing of MSME businesses and pave the way for an appropriate intervention in this important area.

As part of this project, the Bank undertook study tours to two countries’ central banks (namely, Bank Negara Malaysia and Bank of Thailand) with advanced MSME development policy intervention as part of a process of developing and tailoring MSME finance framework to suit Vanuatu’s circumstances.

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