Just in Time: New CGD Task Force Report on Principles for Expanding Financial Access

September 30, 2009

Recent developments have brought to the front the importance and relevance of the Center’s extensive work on improving access to financial services in developing countries, where a very large proportion of households and firms lack such access. First, in the Pittsburgh Summit Communiqué, the G-20 pledged to:

Launch a G-20 Financial Inclusion Experts Group. This group will identify lessons learned on innovative approaches to providing financial services to these groups, promote successful regulatory and policy approaches and elaborate standards on financial access, financial literacy, and consumer protection. (article 41)
Second, next Monday, October 5, at the IMF/World Bank Annual meetings in Istanbul, IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn and HRH Princess Máxima of the Netherlands, the United Nations Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, will launch an Access to Finance Project.I celebrate these important developments and want to contribute to this process by releasing today the CGD Task Force Report Policy Principles for Expanding Financial Access. The CGD Task Force comprises leading international experts on financial access and financial regulation. It is led by three co-chairs, Stijn Claessens (from the IMF), Patrick Honohan (now Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland) and myself.The Principles is the result of a year of work by Task Force members that included consultation with and input from a number of constituencies, including representatives from the private sector, government officials from developing countries and the civil society.Can such principles make a difference? Absolutely.In many areas of finance—banking, securities and insurance, payments systems, and countering money laundering and terrorism finance—policy makers have found it very useful to codify widely accepted broad principles to govern policy design and implementation. The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, Core Principles for Effective Banking Supervision, is one example. The Policy Principles for Expanding Access to Finance are proposed as a contribution to this broader effort, one with special relevance for developing countries and particularly the poor and the middle classes.Because responsibility for policy regarding financial access cuts across many government departments and public policies, there is no single label to identify this complex and important body of practice.Moreover, there is no international association exists that would reasonably be expected to draw up these principles. Hence the present document by an independent Task Force—and our excitement about the timely formation of a G-20 Financial Inclusion Experts Group.CGD Task Force Principles include best practices for: (a) the regulation of financial service providers and financial services; (b) stimulating informed demand for financial services; and (c) the adequate use of public resources in promoting and providing financial services.On behalf of the Task Force I truly hope that our contribution helps to move the agenda forward towards a much needed increase in financial inclusion. Sustained growth and development around the globe depend on achieving this goal.


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