Safeguards against terrorism financing among financial inclusion strategy

Saturday, August 04, 2018

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BANK of Jamaica (BOJ) Governor Brian Wynter says proposed safeguards against money laundering and terrorism financing are among notable developments emerging under the Government's National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS), since its launch in March 2017.

The strategy is an ambitious portfolio of project activities designed to empower Jamaicans financially, through improved access to financial information and products tailored to meet their needs.

Speaking at a recent NFIS forum at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St Andrew, Wynter said the policy proposals, including enhanced 'Know Your Customer requirements, seek to institute a risk-based framework for the Government's Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Programme.

This, he said, will ensure that “our system is not hospitable to crimes of money laundering and financing terrorism”.

Wynter, who heads the Financial Inclusion Steering Committee, which is coordinating implementation of the strategy, pointed out that the risk-based framework will enable persons who have been excluded or are underserved by the financial system, “merely because, for example, they may lack a formal proof of address”, to use financial products available in Jamaica.

“Small things can have enormous consequences in the lives of Jamaicans… and [these] policy proposals, once adapted into the anti-money laundering framework… [are] aimed at, at least, helping us to remove [the obstacles] so that access is not impeded for the excluded and underserved,” he contended.

Wynter said another notable engagement under the NFIS is the development of the National Financial Literacy Action Plan and Interim Strategy by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, which, he pointed out, “promises to be a very important programme”.

Meanwhile, the governor advised that the BOJ is designing new reporting forms to capture vital information on the extent of private-sector credit being provided to micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

The value of loans disbursed to MSMEs by deposit-taking institutions as a percentage of total private-sector credit, is among the NFIS's impact indicators.

Information on this indicator in the NFIS's annual report for 2017 shows no out-turn reflected for 2016, and 0.015 per cent for 2017, based on data collated between March and December of that year.

The target is for an increase in the percentage of total private-sector credit extended to MSMEs to 12 by 2020.

Wynter said the BOJ's lack of “good data” on this area has “adversely impacted our ability to accurately measure what progress we are making towards being a more inclusive society”.

He indicated that work is ongoing to improve the data-gathering processes for MSMEs, “having regard to the new definitions (of MSMEs) under the new National MSME Policy”.

Wynter has also reaffirmed the BOJ's “strong” commitment to ensuring the NFIS's success.

He said the bank has commenced the process of communicating the NFIS's goals and objectives to various interests, and assured that the institution will undertake other engagements, which “find us going to our fellow citizens, hearing their concerns and tailoring our policy responses based on their needs”.

A National Financial Inclusion Council, chaired by Finance and the Public Service Minister Dr Nigel Clarke has been established to oversee the implementation of the NFIS.

The council has fostered a public-private partnership through a Stakeholder Advisory Group chaired by Jamaica National Group's Chief Executive Officer Earl Jarrett.

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