ISLAMABAD - Finance Minister Asad Umar on Tuesday said that government is fully committed to improve the livelihoods of Pakistanis through job creation, promoting entrepreneurship and enhancing access to formal financial services in an efficient and affordable manner.

Chairing the 6th meeting of National Financial Inclusion Strategy (NFIS) Council, the finance minister said that the Government prioritized NFIS as part of its agenda for achieving inclusive economic growth through digitalization of government payments, enhanced access to finance & deposit base, promotion of small & medium enterprises, easy & affordable access to finance to farmers, facilitation in low cost housing finance and provision of Shariah compliant banking solutions.

He said that NFIS targets have been set for these areas for the next 5 years, which will help to create at least 3 million new jobs and additional exports of US$ 5.5 billion by 2023.

The Minister added that under the new targets, the NFIS aims to enhance usage of digital payments to 65 million active digital transaction accounts, with gender segregation of 20 million accounts

by women.

It also aims to enhance deposit to GDP ratio to 55% and promote SME Finance to 700,000 small and medium enterprises; increase agricultural finance disbursements to Rs.1.8 trillion, and serve 6 million farmers through digitalized solutions and enhance share of Islamic Banking to 25 percent of the banking industry.

Welcoming the finance minister to the meeting, Tariq Bajwa, Governor SBP assured that under his leadership and guidance, NFIS will achieve its objectives of inclusive economic growth, economic stability and financial empowerment to unserved segments of the population. He also gave a detailed background of the achievements made under NFIS so far.

The Council had an overview of the progress of key strategic initiatives approved under NFIS 2023. Further, the Council also approved the revised NFIS Governance structure to ensure smooth implementation of the strategy. This includes transformation of NFIS Council into NFIS Policy & Implementation Council which will be chaired by the Finance Minister and co-chaired by the Governor, SBP. The lead implementation agencies, including federal & provincial ministries, govt departments, regulators and private sector, that will be fully empowered and responsible to implement actions in coordination with concerned stakeholders as per the timelines and KPIs mentioned in NFIS 2023, while SBP will continue serving as the NFIS Secretariat.

Finance Minister informed the meeting that an NFIS Transformation Office will be created to facilitate digitalization of Government payments and receipts, and act as a trouble-shooter to resolve issues of Implementing Agencies.

The meeting was attended by NFIS Council members, which include Secretary Finance, Secretary Economic Affairs Division, Chairman SECP, Chairman FBR, Chairman NADRA, and representatives from Provincial Finance Departments, PTA, and ICT. Senior representatives from MoF and SBP also attended the meeting.