An innovative decision by Reserve Bank of Vanuatu (RBV) Governor Simeon Athy and his team, provided a significant economic boost for Luganville recently when they chose to co-host three key regional meetings in the Northern Town.

In an interview with Daily Post towards the end of the second week of meetings, Governor Athy shared, “The Reserve Bank of Vanuatu strongly feels that hosting these types of regional meetings in Luganville for two weeks, will have helped showcase the potentials of the Northern Town in terms of tourism and other prospective fields.”

The first week long meeting involved about 25 participants from the Central Banks of PNG, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Samoa, Cook Islands and Vanuatu that gathered from the jurisdictions in which Bank of South Pacific (BSP) operates to discuss any common issues with the Home Supervisor for BSP.

The second week of meetings targeted participants from the Association of Financial Supervisors of Pacific Countries (AFSPC) and was facilitated by Pacific Financial Technical Assistance Centre (PFTAC).

In his opening address Governor Athy stated, “Since its establishment in 2002, AFSPC has facilitated and provided an important forum for supervisors and regulators to exchange views and share information relating to financial institutions and their respective inherent risks. It also provides an avenue where we as members of the Association come together and discuss and share common interest and current developments in the area of financial supervision in the region.”

One only needs to look at the prestigious list of people present meetings to realise the significance of these meetings. Those present included Mr. David Kloeden (PFTAC Coordinator), Mr. Benjamin Stefanou (PFTAC Financial Sector Supervision Advisor), Mr. Scott McKinnon (Reserve Bank of New Zealand Representative), Deputy Governors of Reserve Banks both here and throughout the Pacific region as well as Commissioners and Heads of Financial Supervision and Regulators around the Pacific.

Athy went on to share that the strength of this meeting was that, “Collectively, we were able to reflect upon and take stock of the various financial issues and developments that have greater influence in our respective financial systems, both at national and international level and how financial supervision has evolved over the years as a result of such changes and developments. Among these are the Global Financial Crisis and its impact in the region, ongoing changes in Global Standards, the impact of natural disasters in our region, and the impact of de-risking, to name a few”.

The final three days of meetings comprised of a workshop that highlighted and updated participants on current Cyber risks.

Governor Athy explained, “Cyber risk is a major threat to businesses including financial institutions. Given the environment for financial institutions changing dramatically, as they become more digitally-connected irrespective of their locations, we as supervisors and regulators often find ourselves lagging behind in our role, in terms of understanding the products and their inherent risks. We are now in the era of Virtual Currencies and the Distributed Ledgers Technology.”

He added, “I am extremely grateful to for PFTAC, an organisation that since its establishment in 1993, which has focused on institutional capacity of Pacific countries to design and implement sound macroeconomic and financial policies--recognizing that macroeconomic and financial stability are essential underpinnings for sustainable economic growth and economic development.”

Governor Athy concluded by acknowledging the immense contribution and assistance of various international partners and donors through PFTAC, “I would like to mention specifically the contributions of the Government of Korea, the European Union, IMF, ADB, AUSAID, NZAID and others, who have provided ongoing financial support for the activities of our members in the area of financial supervision and regulation. I am sure all participants that attended will agree with me that we have all benefitted immensely from PFTAC”.

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