The issue of rural women and insolvent people’s low access to finance should be addressed so that financial inclusion can be ensured for all, experts suggested yesterday.
“Whatever responsibilities we have to carry out, we must concentrate on rural women and poor people to ensure access to finance and perform fairly,” said Mashiur Rahman, the prime minister’s economic affairs adviser.
He was addressing the inaugural session of a two-day “First FIN-B International Conference and Inclusive Fair 2019” organised by the Institute for Inclusive Finance and Development at Krishibid Institution Bangladesh in Dhaka.
Rahman said the government treats finance as a powerful tool for inclusive growth and shared prosperity.
According to him, 85 percent of rural women have no access to financial institutions, for which the government has taken special measures. However, he said, it was really difficult to reach every person of the huge population overnight.
He further observed that financial inclusion of the most financially insolvent, particularly their access to small credit, was a major tool for combating poverty in Bangladesh.
Moreover, rural people have no access to financial institutions, for which they had to rely on microfinance, he said.
Rahman called for strengthening financial capabilities in several key areas, including incorporating provisions of financial educative tools for better management of income and encouraging households to use long-term savings products.
He also urged to work for reducing the gender gap in access to financial institutions.
Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, chairman of the Institute for Inclusive Finance and Development, said Palli Karma Sahayak Foundation was working to address the limitations in access to finance in rural areas and to reduce the gender gap through partner organisations.
He also said the financially insolvent should have access to financial institutions and it should be ensured through financial inclusion.
The poor should be provided with financial services, health and education, the economist added.
He observed that the positive impacts of financial services were not limited to individual and household levels.
Ahmad said financial and non-financial interventions were necessary to ensure socio- economic progress and human dignity, which played a vital role to ensure participation in social activities and increase self-esteem.
MK Mujeri, executive director of the institute, hoped that the knowledge acquired from the conference would help innovate new pathways to promote the financial inclusion agenda.
He also believes that the conference would give significant opportunities of cross learning across the diverse audience covering policymakers, financial experts, practitioners, academicians and the people at large over many complex issues and challenges facing financial inclusion for all.
The conference has some 225 participants, including different stakeholders, representatives of financially excluded individuals and enterprises and marginalised sections of the society.