Increased Access to Financial Sector, Increased Economic Growth

09 May 2014

imageFinancial inclusion is important in tackling poverty, lessen inequality and achieve the millennium development goals. Photo: Felisberta Moniz Da Silva/UNDP Timor-Leste

Dili, 9 May 2014 – In an effort to spur equitable economic growth and prosperity for all people of the country, stakeholders from the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Environment (MCEI), the Secretary of State for the Support and Promotion of the Private Sector (SEAPRI), the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank of Timor-Leste (BCTL), civil societies, the private sector, and development partners gathered today to discuss the current status of Timor-Leste’s financial services sector as well as opportunities to expand it the years ahead.

The event was organized by the Inclusive Finance for the Under-Served Economy Programme (INFUSE) in order to share the preliminary findings from a financial services sector assessment currently being conducted. A team of consultants from MicroSave are completing the assessment, which is funded by INFUSE.

Central to the discussion was the importance of financial inclusion as a means to tackle poverty, lessen inequality and achieve the millennium development goals. Countries with deeper financial systems experience both faster economic growth and faster reductions in poverty rates, and have less income inequality.

“An inclusive financial sector is crucial for the development of our country” said HE Nino Pereira, Secretary of State for Industry and Cooperatives. “Today’s discussion offers a great opportunity for us to asses our current level of financial inclusion and how we can increase financial access for development.”

Experience has also shown that financial inclusion can help promote gender equality. Over two-thirds of microfinance clients around the world are women.  By having access to financial services, women often gain new vocational skills, self-confidence and greater leadership, resulting in an enhanced ability to drive change within both the household and the community. 

“Today’s discussion is very important to exploring what can be done to extend the financial sector,” said Knut Otsby, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative. “Increased access to financial sector will allow people across Timor-Leste, regardless of their income level, location, gender, preferred language or education level, the ability to save money securely, smooth income flows, build assets, protect their family against risk and protect themselves from inappropriate fees or financial practices.” 

The objective of INFUSE is to increase access to financial services by poor and low-income people in Timor-Leste. INFUSE is implemented jointly by the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and is funded by the Government of Timor-Leste through the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Environment and the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.