Speech by Mr. Loi M Bakani, CMG Governor Bank of Papua New Guinea at the Opening of Women’s Microbank, Kimbe Branch

Speech by

Mr. Loi M Bakani, CMG


Bank of papua new guinea

At the opening of Women’s Microbank, Kimbe Branch

13th July 2021

1. Acknowledgements

  • Hon Francis Maneke, Governor of West New Britain Province,
  • Hon Sasindran Muthuvel, Regional Member,
  • Representatives from NBPOL
  • Representatives from OPIC
  • Mr. Gunanidhi Das, CEO, WMBL
  • Board Directors of WMBL
  • President, Lus Fruits Mama Association,
  • President, Widows Association
  • Invited Guests
  • Ladies and Gentlemen.

2. Introduction

I am honored to be here on this occasion of the Opening of the Women’s Micro Bank Limited’s (Mama Bank) branch here in Kimbe, West New Britain Province and the launching of the Self Reliant Group Product (SRG). 

The Mama Bank is the first Women’s Micro Bank in PNG making it the only financial institution in PNG and Pacific with an explicit focus on women. Since the opening of its head office and licensing in 2014, WMBL has established 2 branches as well as launched 7 mama access points and continues its drive to make banking more accessible and affordable for mothers around the country PNG. 

3. Financial Inclusion and its relevance for PNG

Ladies and gentlemen, PNG is characterized by rugged terrains, scattered islands and lacks basic infrastructures making government services including financial services unreachable for most parts of the country. Improving access to financial services remains one of the major developmental challenges in our country and a joint effort is needed to extend financial services to the unbanked majority.

It is estimated that approximately 85 percent of the adult population is excluded from the formal financial sector and live a subsistence lifestyle well below global poverty line. Hence, financial inclusion initiatives are vital to enable the unbanked population to participate meaningfully in the monetized economy. The PNG Government stresses the need for development of the financial and banking sector to promote inclusive growth to achieve the objectives of Vision 2050. It further states that the Medium Term Development Plan is to be implemented under an environment where the financial sector is responsive to the demands of the private sector. This is further supported by the Informal Economy Policy which deals with broader issue of inclusive growth, of which financial inclusion is identified as one of the key priorities of this Policy.

Financial inclusion is an important catalyst for inclusive growth towards a more vibrant economy involving the bulk of the population, especially the informal sector in rural communities. Economic growth in a dual system has enriched households that are linked to market opportunities but continues to bypass many, especially in the informal sector, that are disconnected from market opportunities because of their lack of requisite human capital such as good education, skills and social standing. An effective financial inclusion and credit facilitation strategy is needed. This involves opening the financial markets to provide access of the financial services access to bulk of the citizens including credit as source of seed capital for SMEs. The Government encourages financial and non-financial institutions and development partners and stakeholders to expand their financial inclusion services. This will ensure individuals and businesses, especially SMEs, have access to affordable financial products and services that meet their needs – transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance to enable them to participate and contribute to economic growth.

4. Financial Literacy is key to active participation in the monetized economy

Ladies and gentlemen, from a study conducted in 2013, “The Financial Competence of Low Income Households in Papua New Guinea”, it indicated that low income households are not able to effectively engage in the activities offered by financial institutions that are required for successful participation in the monetized economy. It further notes that as households become increasingly involved in the monetized economy, they are vulnerable, because of poor understanding of the cost of money (such as credit) and the associated risks of using the financial institutions and financial services. This is all due to low levels of financial competencies and therefore they are not aware of the associated risks. I do not believe that study is reflective of the case in West New Britain.

The situation in West New Britain is the issue of miss opportunities of using licensed financial institutions to put aside part of the savings out of the proceeds from the sales of oil palm harvests, where over time the accumulated savings can be turned into other good forms of investments or acquisition of assets that can generate multiples forms of incomes. There is a need for increasing the level of awareness and active engagement between the Oil Palm Growers and the licensed financial institutions through promotion of financial literacy training, business development skills and customer-bank relationships.

I understand from the CEO of WMBL that with the establishment of the Kimbe Branch, financial literacy trainings will be rolled out to all the Oil Palm growers and other farmers in the Province, to equipping them with the basic knowledge and skills to manage their finances well. I appeal to all Oil Palm growers to make use of the WMBL Branch and save. Talk to the staff of WMBL about the different financial products and services that they will offer through this branch so that you will choose what product is relevant for you and or your family.

The Bank of PNG in collaboration with the Centre for Excellence in Financial Inclusion and Women’s MicroBank are in the process of designing a special product tailored for Oil Palm Growers and other farmers. We hope to engage extensively with key stakeholders in West New Britain before it is announced by the Governor of the Bank of Papua New Guinea and the son of West New Britain, Mr. Loi Martin Bakani, CMG.

5. Promoting Efficiency in the National Payments System

In line with the Governments strategy, the Central Bank continues to progress the process of modernization and efficiency to PNG’s National Payments System through the implementation of the Retail Electronic Payments System (REPS). This is to enable banks and other licensed financial institutions to pass transactions to each other through the REPS, which is an interoperable system. This will give customers the choice of using their cards or mobile phones to do shopping in shops or transfer money to family members or friends from anywhere at their convenience. 

6. Conclusion

In conclusion, I wish to Congratulate the Board and Management of Women’s Microbank Ltd and importantly the Governor of West New Britain Province, Hon Francis Maneke for the trust and support to enable WMBL to expand its services to West New Britain Province, culminating in the opening of this branch here in Kimbe, and I trust that WMBL will provide the services that meet the needs of its West New Britain customers.

Thank you and may God Bless us all.

Bank of Papua New Guinea

13 July 2021