Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar chaired 3rd meeting of National Financial Inclusion Council (NFIS) today in Islamabad. The council reviewed progress on Financial Inclusion initiatives and allied indicators. Improvements in areas of installation of biometric verification machines, development of Interoperable services for digital transactions and launch of Govt. of Punjab E-Credit Scheme for small farmers were presented in the meeting. Progress on initiatives like Exim Bank, Mortgage Refinance Company and Pakistan Microfinance Investment Company was also shared with the Council.  The Council was briefed that Biometric verification machines have been installed at 54000 retail locations. Substantial growth has been witnessed in the areas of Branchless Banking, Agriculture credit, microfinance, SME Finance and Islamic Banking since launch of NFIS in May 2015.

The Council noted that all levels of NFIS governance structure including Steering Committee, Technical Committees and Working Groups have been fully operationalized. Actions suggested by these committees have full ownership from private sector. Finance Minister appreciated public-private sector joint commitment for promotion of financial inclusion in Pakistan.

The Council also overviewed key strategic initiatives approved by NFIS steering committee in its last meeting held in July 2016. It was informed that on the basis of achievability, scalability and impact, 10 strategic actions were adopted covering all areas related to Financial Inclusion.

While reviewing the recommendations presented to the Council, the Finance Minister approved the major actions and advised the concerned stakeholders including NADRA, FBR, Provincial Governments, SBP and MoF to further improve recommendations related to NADRA verification cost and taxation structure for branchless banking operations.

Finance Minister advised that the Ministry of Finance should prioritize easing and facilitation of pensioners to ensure digital pension payments to them. He also urged the provinces to work more closely and actively within the NFIS Council so that maximum benefits of financial inclusion are achieved all across the country. Minister also asked EAD to facilitate SBP in obtaining technical and financial support from International Development Partners for setting up National Payment Gateway to be housed at SBP.  Chairman SECP also shared the key developments especially in the area of mutual funds, warehouse receipt financing, pension and insurance that will support financial inclusion.

Finance Minister lauded efforts of SBP team and other Council Members and advised to maintain the momentum for achieving ultimate targets. Meeting was attended by NFIS Council members including Governor SBP, Secretary Finance, Chairman SECP, Chairman FBR, Chairman NADRA, and representatives from Provincial Finance Departments, PTA and ICT. Deputy Governor, Mr. Saeed Ahmad SBP alongwith his team and senior representatives from MoF also attended the meeting.