National strategy a must for inclusive growth: analysts

A national financial inclusion strategy needs to be developed by stakeholders for inclusive growth of the country, said analysts yesterday.

Faisal Ahmed, chief economist of Bangladesh Bank, said many products for financial inclusion were developed on an experimental basis by the central bank.

But now there is a need for strategy to expand the inclusion programmes, he added. The development partners, the central bank, ministries and other organisations of the financial system need to help formulate a strategy for financial inclusion, he said. Such strategies already exist in many countries, said Ahmed, speaking at a discussion titled “financial inclusion and the banking sector: some critical issues” at Lakeshore Hotel, Dhaka.

Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) organised the discussion as part of its two-day annual event called BIDS Critical Conversations 2017 with the theme 'The Bangladesh Journey: Accelerating Transformations'.

A wide array of institutions, along with the banks, must come together and play a role in financial inclusion activities, said Baqui Khalily, adviser and former executive director of Institute for Inclusive Finance and Development.

He said the no-frill accounts, including the Tk 10 accounts for farmers, student accounts, and banking for street children, may not have much contribution to inclusive growth, but these initiatives have increased access to financial systems and financial literacy among the people.

The Tk 10 accounts will help grow a habit among the marginal groups of people to maintain accounts, said Biru Paksha Paul, former chief economist of Bangladesh Bank.

The capital market, a key driver of the economy, can play a role in financial inclusion, he added.

“If we deepen internet penetration, it will enable people to invest in the capital market, even sitting at home in the villages. It will have a significant impact on financial inclusion.”

Mustafizur Rahman, distinguished fellow of Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), moderated the session while Fahmida Khatun, executive director of CPD, and Syed Mahbubur Rahman, managing director of Dhaka Bank, were present. 

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