ISLAMABAD: Queen Máxima of the Netherlands will visit Pakistan from February 9 to February 11 as part of her global efforts to promote financial inclusion.
The queen is the UN secretary-general’s special advocate for inclusive finance for development and her scheduled visit comes in support of Pakistan’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy.
Launched in May 2015, the strategy aims to expand the availability of the financial tools the poor need to protect themselves against hardship and improve their lives.
The special advocate’s visit will start in Islamabad on Tuesday from a meeting with State Bank of Pakistan Governor Ashraf Mahmood Wathra and representatives of public and private banks to discuss their role in making financial services available.
In the afternoon, Queen Máxima and World Bank President Dr Jim Yong Kim will attend the Universal Financial Access workshop held by the State Bank.
The World Bank is preparing a programme to support the implementation of Pakistan’s financial inclusion strategy over the next five years.
Pakistan has a well-organised financial system but the use of formal services is low, particularly among women, farmers and small businesses.
On Tuesday afternoon, the queen will also attend a meeting of the council, which coordinates the strategy’s implementation.
The UN special advocate will also meet President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as well as Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, whose ministry plays an important role in implementing the national strategy.
She will also hold discussions with representatives of international organisations, financial organisations, telecom companies and microfinance institutions to explore their role in improving access to financial services such as savings, payments, credit and insurance.
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As she usually does during her country visits, the queen will explore projects aiming to improve the lives of the poor by utilising transformative financial tools.
Among the programmes she will visit are the Benazir Income Support Programme, which delivers government support to women through digital accounts, and Easypaisa – a digital, branchless banking service that utilises banking agents located in shops, where customers can deposit or withdraw cash, and even take out insurance.
Queen Máxima will also meet with clients at Kashf Foundation, which offers small loans to women to promote entrepreneurship, provides them with financial training and informs them about other financial products.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 6th, 2016.
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