Suva, Fiji – The announcement of the Fiji 2018 – 2019 budget has been met with encouragement by the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) as direct actions are being made to deepen financial access in Fiji.
As a party to the Alliance for Financial Inclusion’s Maya Declaration and the United Nation’s Better Than Cash Alliance, the Fijian Government is making concerted efforts to promote financial inclusion.
In his budget announcement speech, Fiji’s Attorney General and Minister for Economy, Public Enterprises, Civil Service and Communications, Hon. Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum said the 2018 – 2019 budget was making a big push towards financial inclusion.
“This budget empowers Fijian families, laying out new and better economic opportunities for every member of every family in the country. This is a budget that gives a leg-up to families who need special care; those in rural and remote parts of Fiji, those with low-income as well as families who are facing tragic and unforeseen circumstances,” he said.
The budget contains measures that will see over 100,000 Fijians receiving bundled insurance paid for by Government, a push toward a cashless economy through the removal of all electronic transaction fees and the opening of new bank accounts for every baby born to parents whose household income is below $30,000.
Full details on these measures:
- New bank accounts – Under the Parenthood Assistance Payments, mothers from families with a household income below $30,000, will receive a $1000 grant upon the formal registration of a new-born. The grant will be received through a newly opened bank account in the name of the child through the assistance of participating commercial banks. Mothers will be able to withdraw $500 to help with the cost of raising the child and the other $500 will be held in trust to earn interest and can be accessed when the child enters Year 1 of primary school. Over the long term, the Fijian Government hopes parents will add their own savings to those bank accounts, and that will drive home the importance of savings and financial planning for more Fijian families. No fees will be charged in maintaining these accounts.
- Cashless economy – As of 1 January 2019, electronic transactions at a Point of Sale (‘POS’) machine will no longer carry any fees. To encourage more businesses to offer electronic transactions to more Fijians, the Fijian Government is offering to cover 50 percent of the cost to set it up.
- Insurance – Introduction of new Family Insurance by the Fiji Government for social welfare recipients and civil servants including the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, the Fiji Police Force and the Fiji Corrections Officers for a total of 100,000 Fijians at no cost to them. The insurance model offers a protection package up to $10,000 that includes life, home and injury insurance. The Fijian Government also encouraged statutory organisations, industries and the private sector to look closely at this model being introduced by Government and to implement similar packages for their employees.
The budget works towards achieving many of the targets set out in Fiji’s 5 and 20-year National Development Plans and Fiji’s National Financial Inclusion Strategic Plan (NFIS) 2016-2020. Governor of Fiji’s Reserve Bank Arif Ali, said the budget would definitely help in the achievement of Fiji’s NFIS.
“Through the allocation of appropriate resources, the Government shows its commitment to prioritising financial inclusion. The 2018/2019 budget addresses three major drivers of financial inclusion: access to financial services, insurance and digitization of financial services,” he said.
PFIP’s Programme Manager Bram Peters applauded the efforts made by the Fijian Government and its leadership in the Pacific region by implementing programmes that will provide a direct entry point for Fijians into the formal financial sector.
“We are also pleased to see that FijiCare’s bundled microinsurance, which was piloted in Fiji with support from PFIP was mentioned as an appropriate insurance model by the Fijian Government and we recognize the Government honoring its commitment to the BTCA through its push to increase electronic payments,” he said.
PFIP is a Pacific-wide programme that has helped 1.98 million low-income Pacific islanders gain access to financial services and financial education. It achieves these results by funding innovation with financial services and delivery channels, supporting policy and regulatory initiatives, and empowering consumers.
PFIP operates from the UNDP Pacific Office in Suva, Fiji and has offices in Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Solomon Islands. It is jointly administered by the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and receives funding from the Australian Government, the European Union and the New Zealand Government.
For more information or media inquiries please contact:
Erica Lee, PFIP Communications Associate; tel: +679 3227538; email: email@example.com; website: http://www.pfip.org