Photo: PIRI drum at the Annual Roundtable of the Leaders of the Pacific Islands Regional Initiative (PIRI) in Samoa, June 2018.

PIRI members hold first virtual meeting

AFI’s Pacific Islands Regional Initiative (PIRI) held its first-ever virtual meeting with Experts Group on Financial Inclusion Policy (EGFIP) and technical subgroup members on 26 March to discuss various deliverables, including the Pacific Regional Regulatory Sandbox.

Stringent global travel and movement restrictions amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak resulted in the meeting being conducted via a video conferencing app, one in a series of alternative modalities being used to ensure the effective and timely delivery of outputs. 

AFI’s Head of Policy Programs and Regional Initiatives Eliki Boletawa delivered the opening remarks during which he thanked participants for attending the meeting considering the current challenging times.

“Financial inclusion - now more than ever - offers many solutions to the challenges we are seeing today, including appropriate safety nets, microinsurance products and services and platform economies,” Boletawa said, adding that Covid-19 should not stop PIRI’s work towards financial inclusion.

Discussions centered on several topics, including inclusive green finance, gender inclusive finance as well as the upcoming publication of the Pacific Regional Regulatory Sandbox Guidelines, a landmark document that outlines the workings of the world’s first regional regulatory sandbox.

Members from five member institutions in the Pacific region joined the web-based meeting: Reserve Bank of Fiji, Central Bank of Samoa, Central Bank of Seychelles, National Reserve Bank of Tonga and Reserve Bank of Vanuatu.

Central Bank of Samoa’s Lanna Lome-leremia, who is also co-chair of PIRI EGFIP, thanked the Management Team for continuing its work despite the challenges faced. 

The meeting follows a series of web-based conference calls that took place in recent weeks between the leaders and subgroup leaders of AFI’s seven working groups. During these calls, working group members discussed the current progress of their subgroup deliverables as well as next steps, including a series of webinars scheduled to replace physical meetings.

All working group members are expected to meet regularly and make progress in the delivery of knowledge products ahead of the 2020 AFI Global Policy Forum, which will be held in Jordan.

Earlier this month, AFI Management Unit cancelled all domestic and international events slated until end-May following an internal risk assessment. Since then, several additional events have also been put on hold, including the annual PIRI meeting, which was due to take place in Tonga in June.

The PIRI initiative is partially supported by UK aid from the UK government.

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