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THIRTY PERCENT OF JAMAICANS HAVE NO BANK ACCOUNT!

 Colin Bullock.—-

With more than 30 per cent of Jamaicans said to be “unbanked”, chairman of the Financial Services Commission (FSC), Colin Bullock, is calling for greater financial inclusion for all citizens as a key ingredient in fostering growth and national development.

Financial inclusion refers to access to affordable financial services such as credit, insurance and savings, particularly for disadvantaged and low-income segments of society.

Speaking at a Caribbean Group of Securities Regulations conference in St Ann Tuesday, Bullock said there is an unacceptably high ratio of adults in Jamaica without bank accounts and, by extension, access to financial institutions.

He cited a University of the West Indies study, which revealed that some 34 per cent of the adult population does not have a bank account. This, he said, is an inhibiting factor to economic development and must be immediately addressed.

“Financial inclusion leads, almost inevitably, to poverty alleviation and is a major factor positively influencing the growth of micro, small and medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) and the creation of jobs, especially new jobs,” Bullock argued.

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“With participation in financial services, both the poor as well as those engaged in MSMEs become more equipped to operate their businesses, acquire assets and manage risks. This is not a matter of something that is useful; this is an area critical to national development,” he added.

Bullock said Governments and regulators can bolster financial inclusion by increasing financial education initiatives.

“We only just concluded the FSC’s 2015 financial education in schools programme here in Jamaica and it is clear that financial education is a crying need and a development imperative,” Bullock noted.

He said that financial education would increase public confidence and demand for stock, bonds, venture capital and other capital market instruments.

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