ISLAMABAD: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Wednesday announced that its National Financial Literacy Programme (NFLP) completed its third year at the end of FY20 having surpassed all targets for the fiscal year, despite the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic since March 2020.
NFLP is SBP’s flagship programme that is focused on imparting basic financial education to unbanked/underserved segments of the population especially the women and youth.
According to the central bank, the level of financial inclusion in Pakistan up until 2015 was one of the lowest in the world as only 16 per cent of the adult population had a bank account and the account ownership was even lower for women at 11 per cent. However, currently, the unique account ownership in the country has increased to 66 million with 60 per cent active accounts by December 2019. The target of 50 per cent accounts has been accomplished well before the deadline of 2020.
“In order to address the challenge of financial exclusion, the Government of Pakistan adopted a National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) in 2015. The NFIS aims to enhance formal financial access to 50 per cent of the adult population by 2020. Accordingly, with the core objective to enhance access to finance in the country and encourage usage of formal banking channels, the SBP took the lead in implementing the measures suggested vide the NFIS and incorporated the same in its Strategic Vision 2020. Among other measures, one major initiative was the launch of NFLP,” read a statement issued by the central bank.
The central bank said that, keeping in view the diversity and literacy level of the target audience, the NFLP programme has been segmented into two components, National Financial Literacy Program for Adults (NFLP-A) and the National Financial Literacy Program for Youth (NFLP-Y).
The objectives of this programme are to provide financial education to around 2.6 million beneficiaries over five years, have a gender mix of 50:50, and to open bank or mobile accounts of the beneficiaries.
Under NFLP-A, despite the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic 250,000 participants were given financial education during FY20 against the target of 226,000 beneficiaries, through almost 10,000 classroom sessions and 300 street theatre programmes.
This comprised 70 per cent participants located in rural areas with significant improvement in female participation from 42 per cent in FY19 to 57 per cent in FY20.
The number of participants who opened a bank or mobile account at the end of the session, also showed remarkable improvement from 53 per cent in FY19 to 83 per cent in FY20. Since the initiation of NFLP-A in August 2017, more than 600,000 adults have been imparted financial education.
Under NFLP-Y, since its inception in October 2018, around 300,000 students have been trained against a target of 240,000 students by end March 2020. The programme envisages to impart financial education to three age groups; 9-12 years, 13-17 years and 18-29 years across 45 selected districts of Pakistan.
“Various other initiatives have been taken under NFLP which include, country-wide media campaigns to sensitise the masses about the programme, setting up of a dedicated toll-free helpline for public queries, launch of dedicated website to provide information on basic financial concepts, programme schedule and other routine updates, Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) signed with important stakeholders to collaborate under NFLP and a comprehensive booklet for general public was published covering the content in narrative form titled sikka baqaida,” read the statement.