Policies making the rich richer and the poor poorer have never been reexamined in our part of the world. The end product is the accumulation of wealth in a few hands and a small, diminishing middle class. Realising the need to make an effective financial inclusion strategy, Prime Minister Imran Khan has launched an initiative under his government’s flagship poverty alleviation programme, Ehsaas, in partnership with Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, who is United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development. Even before coming to power, Khan often spoke of the lack of efforts to make financial products and services accessible and affordable to the poor. Such disparities have created the barriers that keep a sizeable population from participating in the financial sector and using services to improve their lives. At a ceremony, the prime minister declared that his government was focusing on policies aiming at raising the earning the poor section of society, and Ehsaas was one such endevour. He criticised not only domestic trends, but also the worldwide system in which rich nations were getting richer and poor countries poorer. As per a UN report, the value of assets of 3.8 billion people is owned by 26 richest billionaires. Such accumulation of wealth leaves half of the population on earth below the poverty line.
As per World Bank figures, financial inclusion can make a turnaround in underdeveloped countries as it “facilitates day-to-day living, and helps families and businesses plan for everything from long-term goals to unexpected emergencies.” Queen Maxima, who is spearheading financial inclusion efforts, says it is vital for Pakistan’s economic progress to include women and families in rural areas in the fintech network. Financial inclusion will help the government provide sustenance to the poor and education to children. With the widespread networks of bank and branchless banking, thanks to the easy availability of telecom network and the internet, it is hoped most of the people will be availing mainstream financial services and other benefits. The rural as well as urban segments of the poor population should be educated about the benefits of financial inclusion. More people in financial inclusion network also means the economy will be better documented. *
(This news/article originally appeared in Daily Times on November 28th, 2019)