Accessing Financial Opportunities

Centre for Excellence in Financial Inclusion (CEFI) has highlighted its role in assisting Papua New Guineans to access existing financial opportunities for trade and private sector development.

CEFI Executive Director, Saliya Ranasinghe, stressed that they were able to help Papua New Guineans at the recent business, trade and investment conference between the European Union (EU) and PNG.

He contributed to the discussion on how the EU/PNG Economic partnership agreement can empower the country’s non-resource sector.

Mr Ranasinghe said PNG’s financial sector has a diverse range of financial institutions. He said there are four commercial banks in the country, finance companies – mainly lending institutions and that take fixed deposits, and microfinance institutions.

Mr Ranasinghe said PNG is the only Pacific nation that license microfinance institutions.

“These micro-finance institutions have reached the common people of this country. It’s very encouraging to know that they have reached over 500,000 bank accounts. Almost half a million bank accounts in PNG.”

The CEO said in addition, savings and loans societies could now operate like financial institutions by offering a wide range of financial services after the amendment a former restrictive act last year.

He stated that PNG is very fortunate to have these financial institutions in place as they enable people to have access to the financial services to capture business opportunities that they would like to pursue.

Mr Ranasinghe said these institutions facilitate financial system delivery expansion across the country.

In the last six to seven years, there has been an increase of about 2.5 million bank accounts, an indication that there is a larger number of people using the formal financial institutions.

Mr Ranasinghe explained that CEFI, bring more people into the financial mainstream and assist them to use these financial products and services to improve their businesses, start new businesses as well

CEFI has reached over 250,000 people with its financial literacy training.

At the end of the training, CEFI provides these people links into the formal banking sector. That usually becomes the first step before going into the formal financial institutions.

Ranasinghe said people are unaware of these existing financial opportunities for business.

 In 2020 CEFI developed a Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Lending booklet. It lists the descriptions of lending products that are available in the PNG market.

This year, CEFI developed an online platform, called Finance Finder in partnership with an organization called Business Link Pacific. There are eight financial institutions with twenty banking products available on the website for anyone who wants to access loans or any financial facility.

Mr Ranasinghe said this is how CEFI is working to bridge the gap of information that is available to clients in the market. 

Marysila Kellerton