VM boss welcomes Gov’t support for financial inclusion

VM boss welcomes Gov’t support for financial inclusion

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, October 09, 2016

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Group President and CEO at Victoria Mutual, Courtney Campbell, has commended the government’s focus on financial inclusion in its efforts to achieve economic growth.

"Yes, we all want higher levels of economic growth, but it should be inclusive growth," Campbell cautioned guests at last Thursday’s ninth annual Prime Asset Management Limited/Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) Pensions Seminar at the Jamaica Pegasus, New Kingston.

"I must publicly commend the government of Jamaica on the emphasis that they have been placing on financial inclusion," he added.

Campbell said that, as stated by the World Economic Forum, economic growth is more sustainable when it is equitable and inclusive.

Campbell noted that this year’s pensions seminar was taking place at a time when implementation of the provisions for the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Extended Fund Facility (EFF) with Jamaica is on track, as indicated by the latest IMF review, which was completed in September.

"Domestic confidence indicators are at an all-time high, and there are improving signs of economic activity, increased FDI inflow, and stronger private sector credit growth. Real GDP growth is estimated at one per cent for FY15/16, and is projected to reach 1.7 per cent in FY16/17," he noted.

"Victoria Mutual is pleased with this progress, but acknowledges that we are not quite ‘out of the woods’ yet. In light of this, I wish to share that we are fully committed to playing our role in the drive to accelerate economic growth," he said

"We also fully support the Economic Growth Council’s ‘Call to Action’ and stand ready to partner with other stakeholders in executing key growth initiatives such as improving access to finance.

"Financial inclusion is what Victoria Mutual has always been about. It is widely known that Victoria Mutual was established with the goal of assisting all Jamaicans to achieve their dreams of home ownership. Based on this premise, we are highly involved in improving the lives of individuals through the building of their financial independence.

"A major part of this effort is our strategy, as a group, to ensure financial inclusion. Simply put, financial inclusion affords a world where everyone has equal access to financial services," he stated.

Campbell, as head of the Victoria Mutual Group, also heads Prime Asset Management, a subsidiary.

He said that in order to ensure financial inclusion, however, there has to be financial literacy.

He explained that financial literacy is the "combination of awareness, knowledge, skill, attitude and behaviour necessary to make sound financial decisions and ultimately achieve individual financial well-being".

He said that access to pension arrangements is a key aspect of financial inclusion, and the issue of individuals not contributing to their pensions or saving for old age is also impacted by the fact that persons are not knowledgeable about pensions," he added.

He said that the facts are that the World Bank’s Financial Inclusion Data/Global Findex for Jamaica has noted that in 2014 only 32.2 per cent of Jamaicans, 15 years and older, were saving for old age and 30.6 per cent of that figure were "Upper Middle Income" individuals.

"The data suggests that only a mere 1.6 per cent of lower-income families are saving for old age. The figure is also dismal for the Caribbean and Latin America, where only 10.6 per cent are saving for old age," he pointed out..

He said that evidence shows that there is need for pension education, and some experts believe that the low level of public confidence is due to the nation’s failure to educate its citizenry about how their pensions work and their role in retirement security.

"In fact three-quarters of the population now feels that a major overhaul of their pension system is required," Campbell said.

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Audley Shaw was the main speaker at the seminar. PSOJ president PB Scott and president of the Union of Clerical, Administrative and Supervisory Employees (UCASE), Vincent Morrison, were among the speakers.

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