ISLAMABAD: The government is fully committed to improving the livelihood of Pakistanis through job creation, promoting entrepreneurship and enhancing access to formal financial services in an efficient and affordable manner, emphasised Finance Minister Asad Umar.
Chairing the sixth meeting of the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) Council on Tuesday, Umar said the government gave priority to NFIS as part of efforts to achieve inclusive economic growth in some areas.
These areas include digitalisation of government payments, enhanced access to finance and deposit base, promotion of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), easy and affordable access to financing for farmers, facilitation for low-cost housing finance and provision of Shariah-compliant banking solutions.
The finance minister said NFIS targets had been set for these areas for the next five years, which would help create at least three million new jobs and result in additional exports of $5.5 billion by 2023.
The minister pointed out that under the new targets, the NFIS would promote digital payments to 65 million active digital transaction accounts, of which 20 million were owned by women.
The financial inclusion strategy is also aimed at enhancing the deposit-to-gross domestic product (GDP) ratio to 55%, promoting SME financing for 700,000 units, increasing agricultural finance disbursement to Rs1.8 trillion, serving six million farmers through digitalised solutions and enhancing the share of Islamic banking to 25% of the banking industry.
Speaking on the occasion, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor Tariq Bajwa assured the finance minister that NFIS would achieve the objectives of inclusive economic growth, economic stability and financial empowerment of un-served segments of society.
The council reviewed the progress on key strategic initiatives approved under the NFIS 2023. Moreover, the council approved the revised NFIS governance structure to ensure smooth implementation of the strategy.
This includes transformation of the NFIS Council into NFIS policy and implementation council, which will be chaired by the finance minister and co-chaired by the SBP governor.
Lead implementation agencies, including federal and provincial ministries, government departments, regulators and private sector, will be fully empowered and responsible to implement actions in coordination with the stakeholders concerned as per timelines and key point indicators (KPIs) mentioned in the NFIS 2023. The SBP will continue to serve as the NFIS secretariat.
Umar told the meeting that an NFIS transformation office would be set up to facilitate the digitalisation of government payments and receipts, and act as a trouble-shooter to resolve the issues faced by implementing agencies.
The meeting was attended by NFIS Council members, which included finance secretary, Economic Affairs Division secretary, SECP chairman, Federal Board of Revenue chairman, NADRA chairman and representatives of provincial finance departments and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 6th, 2019.