Access to banking is a fundamental right: SBP

Published March 5, 2024
State Bank of Pakistan Governor Jameel Ahmed. — Photo via SBP/File
State Bank of Pakistan Governor Jameel Ahmed. — Photo via SBP/File

KARACHI: State Bank of Pakistan Governor Jameel Ahmad has said that access to financial services is a fundamental right of the people.

He was delivering a keynote address at the inaugural event of Pakistan Financial Literacy Week (PFLW) on Monday at the SBP. The theme for the week is ‘Digital Bankari – fori aur asaan’. The event was attended by presidents and CEOs of commercial banks, senior officials from the World Bank, Alliance for Financial Inclusion and other stakeholders.

He said that SBP fully recognises access to financial services as a fundamental right, and SBP’s mission is to empower every citizen by providing them with the tools and knowledge needed to participate fully in the economy.

The governor said that an inclusive financial sector is not only important for the overall growth of the banking industry but also augments monetary policy transmission channels and increases its effectiveness.

Mr Ahmad said that the SBP has always been working on increasing the availability and utilisation of financial services for people and businesses to meet their financial services needs in a fair and dignified manner.

The key initiatives taken for expanding financial services to the unbanked and under-banked segments of society include the implementation of national-level strategies and policies such as the National Financial Inclusion Strategy, National Financial Literacy Programme and Banking on Equality Policy.

He said that SBP has been implementing several initiatives under the national level policies which are uniquely positioned to benefit all segments of the population, i.e. RAAST, ASAAN Digital Account, ASAAN Mobile Account and more recently Digital Banks and specialised schemes to enhance access to finance.

The specialised schemes include the SME Asaan Finance Scheme (SAAF), Refinance and Credit Guarantee Scheme for Women Entrepreneurs, Line of Credit for MSMEs, and Prime Minister’s Youth Business and Agriculture Loan Scheme (PMYB&ALS).

After the governor’s inaugural speech, the excellence awards were conferred upon various commercial banks that actively participated in the National Financial Literacy Programme since its commencement in 2017 and contributed to improving financial literacy among the beneficiaries.

The second session of the event included a panel discussion, where experts and thought leaders explored the future landscape of digital finance. The discussion delved into emerging trends, challenges, and opportunities in the rapidly evolving digital financial ecosystem.

The SBP in collaboration with stakeholders, actively shapes an ecosystem that embraces technological advancements, he said. This collaborative effort ensures financial stability and sustainability, critical components in the nation’s journey towards a digitally empowered and financially inclusive society.

Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2024

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