The Steering Committee for the Establishment of the National Strategy on Financial Inclusion in Palestine endorsed the National Strategy on Financial Inclusion in Palestine at its fifth and final meeting held in Ramallah. The meeting was chaired by H.E. Governor of the PMA, Mr. Azzam Shawwa, and H.E. Chairman of the Palestine Capital Market Authority (PCMA), Dr. Nabil Qassis and attended by Committee members.
During its meeting, the committee approved the proposition for the formation of the national committee that will be assigned supervision over the implementation of the National Strategy on Financial Inclusion in Palestine and drew its terms of reference. This steering committee will be comprised of 13 member institutions from the public and private sectors as well as from the civil society and co-chaired by the PMA and the PCMA.
From his side, H.E. Governor of the PMA stressed the importance of the establishment of the National Strategy on Financial Inclusion, which has gained the attention of several international financial institutions in recent years, particularly following the 2008 global financial crisis. H.E. Governor Shawwa pointed out that Palestine was among the first Arab countries to establish a national strategy on financial inclusion in accordance with the best international standards and practices, and subsequently commended by several international financial institutions.
In turn, H.E. Dr. Nabil Qassis stressed the significance of financial inclusion to the attainment of economic development and economic justice, adding that financial inclusion gains additional importance as it is directly linked to the reduction of unemployment and poverty indicators. In Palestine, he noted, establishing the National Strategy on Financial Inclusion is vital because it aims at promoting the access of all segments of the society to financial services and products through the unification of efforts made by all parties involved in the establishment of the strategy toward raising awareness of citizens to the significance of financial services and the means to obtain them and, as a result, improve their social and economic conditions and realize financial and social stability. Moreover, the goals of the National Strategy on Financial Inclusion in Palestine converge with other national strategic goals and plans for development, in particular with the economic development plan. Further, the strategy will seek to make financial products and services available to all segments of the society, especially marginalized groups.
Mr. Shawwa explained that the strategy was prepared based on the results presented by the field study that was jointly conducted by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) and the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute (MAS). This study showed that financial inclusion rate in Palestine was 36.4 percent and concluded that key strategic goal for the strategy was to raise it up to a minimum of 50 percent by end of 2025. He noted that the committees which prepared the national strategy document sought to highlight the various issues and impediments facing all segments of the society with regards to proper access to and use of financial services. Furthermore, the committees have sought to propose relevant solutions.
Members of the Steering Committee were also took part in this meeting, including Chairman of the Association of Banks in Palestine, Mr. Mohammad Al-Barghouti; the financial consultant for the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Mr. Mohammad Salem; Dr. Audeh Masharqa from the Banking Services Consumer Society; Chairman of the Palestinian Network for Small and MicroFinance Sharakeh, Mr. Ala’ Sisalem; Deputy Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency UNRWA, Mr. Wahid Jubran; Chairman of the Palestine Union of Securities Trading Companies, Mr. Jamal Ala’iddin; Chairman of the Palestinian Insurance Federation, Mr. Anwar Al-Shanti and consultant of the Ministry of Social Development on Programs’ Affairs, Mr. Ayman Sawalha. Also attending the meeting were PCMA General Manager, Mr. Barraq Nabulis; PMA Director of Consumer Relations and Market Conduct Department, Mr. Ali Faroun and Director of Public Relations and Communications Department, Mrs. Irene Saadeh.
At the end of the meeting, H.E. Governor of the PMA, Mr. Azzam Shawwa, and H.E. Chairman of the Palestine Capital Market Authority (PCMA), Dr. Nabil Qassis thanked the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI), the main project sponsor, and to the German Development Agency GIZ and all other institutions that took part in the formulation of the strategy, emphasizing the important role played by the Committee which managed the project for the establishment of the strategy in a timely and efficient manner. They added that the coming period will be dedicated for the finalization of the document and all its appendices, which will afterwards be submitted to the Cabinet for endorsement.