Address of Governor Dimitar Bogov, at the 1st Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA) Regional Forum on Financial Inclusion Policy, 26-28 October 2015, Skopje
Dear ladies and gentlemen,
It is my honor to welcome you all here in Skopje, Macedonia. The National Bank of the Republic of Macedonia and the Alliance for Financial Inclusion, with the support of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development of Germany and the State Secretariat of Economic Affairs of Switzerland, are organizing the First ECA Regional Forum on Financial Inclusion Policy. The aim of this meeting is to bring together the regional leading policy-makers and experts that are engaged in the issues of financial inclusion policies.
Financial inclusion means to improve the range, quality and availability of financial services and products to the unserved, under-served and financially excluded. The definition of Financial Inclusion embraces the key principles which are considered critical for delivering a broad range of quality financial services and products.
The first key principle is access, which means the availability of appropriate financial products, services and delivery channels to the target market to facilitate universal access. Important steps have already been made in this area in the previous years. Access needs to be complemented by the quality of the financial services which refers to how financial services are provided. Quality pertains to product design and delivery traits that enhance the value of services to clients. Access is of no use if the targeted persons are not using the product or service, so therefore real inclusion should be accompanied by usage. There are also other key principles such as affordability and appropriateness, according to which financial services should address the needs of clients and ensure their protection and dignity. We cannot exclude the financial education from the principles as well, because it is a powerful driver of consumers’ skills empowerment. It empowers them with tools and knowledge on how to manage and operate with their personal financial choices and budget. Not only the consumers will gain knowledge through financial education, but most important is that they are assured of fair treatment.
This 3-day Forum will focus on financial literacy and consumer protection, SME finance policy, digital financial services and data, through the AFI Peer-Learning Platform in order to advance the policy frameworks on financial inclusion across the ECA region. I think that this region has many similarities in the field of financial inclusion with respect to the financial inclusion challenges and regulatory barriers. There is a shared view that the level and quality of financial inclusion in the economies of the region have a significant impact on the prospect for sustainable growth. The financial inclusion will also provide an opportunity for further advancement that would support and facilitate greater scale and sustainability of financial stability. A key point for ensuring the financial stability is the financial capability of consumers themselves, so that they can meaningfully participate in the financial system. I do hope that through enhanced collaboration and joint efforts between the member-countries of AFI across the region and further, we would be able to advance in many financial inclusion opportunities and build a strong and committed peer-learning network.
In 2011, the National Bank of the Republic of Macedonia started its own Financial Education Project that has been permanently developed and embraces many different activities including organization of workshops for journalists, printing educational brochures, developing school programs and piloting many other projects. The National Bank of the Republic of Macedonia has strengthened the cooperation with the regulatory authorities, such as the Ministry of Finance, the Insurance Supervision Agency, the Agency for Supervision of Fully Funded Pension Insurance and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Since 2014, efforts have been made to establish institutional arrangements in order to bring authorities together and secure a joint commitment towards clearly defined and measurable financial education and financial inclusion goals. A result of such efforts is the Coordinating Body of the Regulatory Authorities for Financial Education in Macedonia. The main goal of this Coordinating Body is to define the national financial education and inclusion strategies.
I hope that this event will be an opportunity to bring together knowledge, expertise and best practices in financial inclusion from all across the ECA region and that it will provide useful and fruitful meetings and interesting sessions for all of you.
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