AFI Executive Director Dr. Alfred Hannig delivers opening remarks during virtual launch of the Haiti National Plan of Financial Education, 25 June 2020.

Haiti's National Plan of Financial Education
Thursday, 25 June 2020

Opening Remarks by Dr. Alfred Hannig, Executive Director, AFI

Mr. Jean Baden Dubois, Governor of the Banque de la Republique d’Haiti.

Ladies and gentlemen, Board members of the Banque de la Republique d’Haiti.

Mr. Patrick Boisvert, Minister of Economy and Finance. 

Mr. Pierre Josué Agénor Cadet, Minister of National Education and Professional Formation.

Mr. Fernando Perini, Representative of the International Development and Research Centre – Canada.

Mr. Alou Dicko, Representative of the Canadian Embassy.

Ms. Carolina Robino, Representative of the International Development and Research Centre – Canada.

Good morning in Haiti.

Allow me to express my gratitude and my congratulations to Mr. Jean Baden Dubois, BRH Governor, to the Minister of Economy and Finance and to the Minister of National Education of Haiti for their leadership in driving forward and launching today your National Plan for Financial Education (PNEF 2020 – 2024).

The BRH has always been a very dedicated and supportive AFI member institution and indeed a true champion of financial inclusion over the past decade. We have seen several Maya Declaration Commitments from BRH to elevate financial inclusion to the next level in terms of access, usage and quality. BRH has always kept its word in fulfilling these important commitments. We are delighted to see this National Financial Education Plan as one of these commitments being launched today.

Allow me to also thank the International Development Research Centre (IDRC - Canada) for supporting Haiti and supporting other AFI members within the Financial Inclusion Initiative for Latin America and the Caribbean (FILAC) during the recent past to “bringing smart policies to life”. Many financial regulators and policymakers in the Latin American and the Caribbean region have benefited through your support, promoting an active leadership and enabling the transformation by establishing financial inclusion policies.

The present times are challenging, COVID-19 indeed has been rapidly spreading all over the World, most recently changing its epicenter from Europe to the Americas. And what started as an alarming health crisis has already turned into a dramatic economic crisis. The economic downturn caused by the pandemic has reached emerging and developing economies and analysts and observers of this situation assume that the negative impact of this crisis will be even more severe for them than for the developed World. Just yesterday the IMF has updated its outlook on the world economy and lowered its global growth forecasts for the world economy to shrink by 4.9% this year. Also, the outlook for developing and emerging economies has been corrected downwards.

There is already evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic has the most dramatic impact on the poor. They are more exposed to the virus as in many places there living conditions do not allow them social distancing as it is practiced in many places in the advanced economies. And the poor will feel the economic impact of this crisis even more than others as poorer countries have smaller financial resources to fight dramatic incidents as this pandemic. As a result, we are facing a real emergency for us and now more than ever, we have the responsibility to show solidarity to each other.

Since mid-March 2020, when most of the countries in our network introduced social distancing rules , AFI swiftly responded by implementing a Business Continuity Plan that among others, leveraged on telecommunication technology as an alternative mode of delivering services to support members. To support members’ efforts to mitigate the short-term impact of the health crisis and to facilitate medium-term recovery initiatives we have initiated a dedicated AFI COVID-19 Policy Response project. This project is a facility to support our members quickly and flexibly. The specific project approach we have adopted allows a combination of quick, needs-based, highly practical and high-impact interventions that enable rapid response policies and regulations to be implemented in highly impacted countries and that are structured to meet members’ needs.

Responsibility also means to assess the current situation with caution and realism, and to avoid jumping to conclusions too quickly. Some commentators of this crisis have been very quick to define the current situation as a “New Normal”. We think that too little is known to justify speaking already about the “new normal” at this stage, as too little is known about the virus itself, and there is lack of secured knowledge on how we will be able to manage the health crisis in the future. We recognize the severe nature of the crisis and we are fully aware that for now, we will have to live with insecurities. However, we also have an opportunity to draw the right conclusions from this crisis. One of the biggest opportunities at present results from the fact that over the past decade financial inclusion has emerged as a tested and proven policy tool that has worked to alleviate poverty and reinforced monetary policy implementation in many countries in the world after the Global Financial Crisis, especially in developing countries.   Exploiting this opportunity in a smart way will allow us to aim for a “Better Normal”, compared not only to what we see right now at the peak of the crisis but also to what we have been used to before the outbreak. I guess the point I  am trying to make is that we should be brave to draw the right conclusions from what we have learned so far.

An example of this “Better Normal” is indeed this Launch Event. Adapting to the circumstances and safeguarding the course of policy implementation, especially when such interventions, as financial education, are so crucial, specially during these times when uncertainty and misinformation are so prevalent everywhere, and when there is a need to seek for innovations to allow people get their resources remotely safely and timely.

In the very first place this event today also belongs to those of you who have fought for many years in bringing light and hope to millions of Haitians through a practical approach to better use their resources. A national financial education plan only can be implemented by those of you, women and men with the conviction to bring positive change to every children, women and men in the country. It is thanks to this conviction and persistence from you, that more women and men than before have been convinced to use financial services in an informed and practical way. I wish that this national plan for financial education will allow you to capitalize your active collaboration and high conviction to multiply the positive change in society you have been successfully implement implementing in Haiti.

Ladies and Gentlemen, financial education is at the cross-roads of other important policies and regulations, and together with them allows for a sustainable and equitable financial inclusion. When financial education effectively empowers financial users to take better financial decisions and to understand not only the rights but also the obligations when using a financial service, then financial transactions will become more sound and stable. 

Rolling out digital financial services financial and digital literacy. DFS can only be effective if the customers have the confidence, skills and knowledge to use them. Correspondingly, the  the DFS ecosystem also offers new channels and opportunities to obtain digital financial literacy at lower cost.  

Please allow me to congratulate all of you, as you have included women, children and youth at the center of this National Plan, including women as a cross-cutting targeted group and financial education at schools. In the AFI Network, we have realized that financial inclusion to be impactful needs to consider women and youth, and its diversity.  The Denarau Action Plan signed-off by our AFI members in 2016 and ratified last year in the Kigali Statement established women’s financial inclusion as a cross-cutting priority in our agenda as a Network, especially considering that the lack or lower financial education of women is one of the key barriers to women’s financial inclusion. We are committed to leave no one behind.

AFI members also consider financial education at schools targeting children and youth to be one of the key drivers that enables a change in financial culture. In this regard, let me congratulate the Ministry of National Education and Professional Formation for being an active ally in this initiative alongside the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and the BRH. Schools at the different levels of education are one of the best multipliers to build competencies and skills in children and youth, contributing to a more resilient and aware society. Teachers, students and parents are a strong multiplier to echo the initiatives and programs that also come through other initiatives with the potential of positive transformation of multiple generations into the future.

Finally, allow me to also thank some of our AFI member institutions – specifically from Fiji, Morocco, and Seychelles - present today in this important event to share their experiences and learnings as part of AFI’s model of peer-learning and sharing network. The exchange of practical lessons learned makes us stronger as policymakers and practitioners.  This is indeed a virtuous cycle where some of these institutions previously also benefited from the lessons and knowledge from other policymakers when they were at their beginning stages implementation.

Dear Governor Dubois,

I wish BRH and Haiti a successful execution of your brand new National Financial Education Plan, and I want to ratify you and your team at BRH the support from the AFI network in the development, and especially, in the implementation of this and other financial inclusion policies. In addition to reiterating the availability of our in-country support offerings, I want to ratify our commitment as a Network to support you and all of our members in the Policy Response to the COVID-19 crisis we are all facing today. In these regards, we have allocated specific resources to support some of the challenges facing due to the emergency crisis through technical and financial assistance to BRH.  

Finally, please let me wish all the participants joining today, successful deliberations and resolutions during today’s Financial Education launch program.

Congratulations and thank you all!

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