KUCHING: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has called upon financial institutions to offer more innovative solutions in terms of products and services offered and types of service channels, so that financial inclusion can be enjoyed by the people of Sarawak.
He noted that Sarawak has a unique demography, with its people residing in a variety of locations from major cities to far-flung areas which can only be reached via waterways or logging routes.
“We are aware that this unique demography poses challenges in the economic and social development agenda, including ensuring the inclusive participation of the people in financial services.”
He said this when officiating at Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) Virtual Sarawak Financial Awareness Campaign (ViSFA) on Tuesday (Aug 3).
Moving forward, he said the need for financial services was expected to continue to increase in line with Sarawak’s economic development.
“The need to provide good infrastructure will continue to be prioritised so that financial institutions can continue to offer services to all corners of the state as well as offer more effective and efficient financial services.”
Abang Johari noted that earlier in May, mobile banking services had been launched for the convenience of rural folks in the state.
“The collaboration between the state government, BNM, and financial institutions succeeded in realising the hopes of the rural population to gain quicker and more conducive access to banking.”
He pointed out that economic background and geographical location had a significant influence in determining financial service needs.
“For example, in Sarawak, 40 percent of the people live in rural areas and most of the rural community depend on agricultural and plantation sectors as a source of income.”
He also welcomed financial products such as the Perlindungan Tenang initiative.
He explained that Perlindungan Tenang was a national initiative to provide affordable insurance and takaful plans such as insurance plans for village house or longhouse fires so that people can protect their financial assets and loved ones.
“My advice to the people of Sarawak is to always protect yourself, family, and property from loss by getting the appropriate insurance and takaful coverage.”
On another note, he said the responsibility of realising the vision of becoming a developed state by 2030 did not lie with the state government alone — “It is a joint effort by the government, the private sector, and the people of Sarawak as a whole.”
Abang Johari said that in line with the needs of the digital economy, there would be changes in education and skills required in the future, including financial types and services.
“To ensure that none are left behind in the financial agenda, Sarawak remains committed towards raising the level of financial literacy and inculcating responsible habits and attitudes in financial management among the people of Sarawak.
“This is because the moment an individual is able to manage their finances well, it will help in improving the quality of life of said individual.”