MOU to increase financial literacy awareness

Permanent secretary for Ministry of iTaukei Affairs Naipote Katonitabua (left), Westpac Fiji general manager, Brett Hooker and Jyoti Maharaj of Westpac during the MOU between iTaukei Affairs and Westpac Bank yesterday. Picture: RAMA

THE strength of the rural communities and the unique challenges they face has prompted a bank to partner with the i-Taukei Affairs Board and the Ministry of I-Taukei Affairs to provide financial literacy training to villagers.

Yesterday the Westpac Banking Corporation renewed its memorandum of understanding with the board and the ministry until 2020 to provide financial literacy training.

Westpac Bank general manager Brett Hooker said Financial Literacy Programs had been provided not only in urban areas but also in rural and maritime zones and the trainings had been conducted in the vernacular suitable and understandable to all participants.

“For those individuals that have businesses or wanting to go into business we have provided them with free business basic workshops which have assisted them to understand what it takes to run a business and to understand the basic business financials,” said Mr Hooker.

He said complementing the Financial Literacy training was Westpac Instore Banking, which allowed rural communities to have greater opportunities to manage money themselves — signing up for their own bank accounts and had brought greater independence and empowerment culturally, right across the Fiji islands.

According to Mr Hooker most of those in the rural communities who have opened their bank accounts have found how easy it is regarding their banking needs when they travel to the urban areas that is accessing their money from an ATMs or swipe their card at supermarkets etc when they do their shopping.

The permanent secretary for the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs and chief executive officer for the iTaukei Affairs Board Naipote Katonitabua said the ministry was carrying out village profiles which was expected to be completed next year and through their surveys they had found out that villagers in rural areas and the maritime areas needed financial literacy training.

Mr Katonitabua said one of their major challenges was to sustain the program at the village level which was why the ministry had roped in the roko tui and assistant roko tui from the various villages.

The Ministry of iTaukei Affairs highlighted that the financial literacy training workshops held for villagers in the past two years had been successful and they planned to reach a much wider section of the community in the next two years.

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