Finance minister AMA Muhith on Thursday laid emphasis on expanding bank branches across the country to foster the financial inclusion.
He said currently there are fewer than 10,000 bank branches in the country, which should be enhanced in view of its 160 million population.
"This government has tried to expand the braches of bank and deliver bank services to the common people," he said.
He was speaking at a workshop on 'National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) of Bangladesh' at a city hotel.
Bangladesh Banks and Financial Institutions Division of the ministry of finance jointly organised the programme, supported by Business Finance for the Poor in Bangladesh (BFP-B) project funded by UKaid.
The finance minister, however, said the expansion of banks is related to the economic context of the country.
MA Mannan, state minister for finance and planning, Abul Kalam Azad, principal coordinator of SDGs affairs at the Prime Minister's Office, Fazle Kabir, governor of Bangladesh Bank, Abdur Rouf Talukder, secretary (in charge), Finance Division, and Jane Edmondson, country representative of DFID, Bangladesh attended the programme.
Arijit Chowdhury, additional secretary of the financial institutions division, delivered welcome remarks.
MK Mujeri, lead consultant of the NFIS report, shared his experience about the preparation process of the strategy.
Asif Iqbal, deputy director of Bangladesh Bank, made a power-point presentation on the strategy of Bangladesh.
Md Eunusur Rahman, senior secretary of financial institutions division, moderated an open-discussion session on NFIS of Bangladesh in the workshop.
The speakers discussed the different aspects of NFIS for Bangladesh and stressed the coordination between the government and private sector stakeholders.
Bangladesh being a leading member of Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) committed internationally in 2014 to develop the strategy for Bangladesh as part of a signatory to Maya Declaration.
This commitment was reiterated in 2015 during the Bangladesh visit of Queen Máxima of the Netherlands by the capacity of UN Secretary-General's special advocate for inclusive finance for development.
Moreover, the government's 'Ekti Bari Ekti Khamar', which started in 2009, is playing a significant role in widening access to financial services for the underserved people.
Bangladesh Bank and ministry of finance took an initiative to develop a complete draft of NFIS for Bangladesh with the support from the UK Government (as part of BFP-B project funded by UKaid).
This initiative started in 2016.
By October 2018, the final draft along with diagnostic study report will be submitted to the cabinet, which is the apex approval authority of NFIS for Bangladesh.
The time period for the implementation of the first NFIS for Bangladesh has been planned as '2019-2024' in the draft in line with the government's target to graduate from the LDC (least developed country) towards middle income country status.
Ahmed Jamal, deputy governor of Bangladesh Bank, delivered the Vote of Thanks at the programme.
High officials from different ministries, government agencies and Bangladesh Bank, country representatives from development partners, managing directors and chief executives from banks, and business associations attended the programme.
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