The iTaukei Land Trust Board (TLTB) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Bank of the South Pacific (BSP) today. This document formalises the working relationship between the two entities with regard to best practices in land management and financial services inclusion for Fiji's iTaukei Landowners.
"The basis of this agreement is steeped in the fundamental belief that there is an abundant need to support both short and long-term coping mechanisms for development and to contribute to the wider global agenda of financial inclusion and gender equality especially for the iTaukei landowners," says TLTB CEO Tevita Kuruvakadua. "The objective is to empower iTaukei landowners through the facilitation of financial literacy awareness program to upgrade their skills and knowledge in financial matters as an integral component to encourage their participation in the social, entrepreneurial and micro enterprise space in Fiji at the same time providing awareness and an opportunity to get access to financial products and services to enable them to realise value in sustainable projects that assist supplement their current income streams and status which is generally in line with the policies of TLTB and BSP."
This collaboration between TLTB and Fiji's Microfinance Service Provider of the Year will enable landowners to have 24/7 access to their own bank accounts compared to when they had to travel long distances to their nearest branch to access services such as; check their account balances, transfer money to third parties, pay bills, top up their mobile phone credit and track their account history.
BSP's banking services delivered through Post Offices will also benefit landowners under this agreement. Opening bank accounts, deposits, withdrawals, electronic banking services are made affordable and accessible at their localities.
Those with BSP accounts will also get first-hand information on best financial advice, loan facilities, insurance products and other new initiatives of the bank.
BSP Country Head Mr Haroon Ali reaffirmed BSP's longstanding commitment to the Vanua and Communities, "We are ready to help address the challenges faced by the TLTB to distribute lease monies to its rightful recipients and have them access their funds from where they are without having to travel long distances."
Through this Partnership between TLTB and BSP, land owning units and trust entities will now have a better platform to assess and discuss development opportunities with appropriate financial packages available through the BSP.
Mr Ali confirmed that apart from financial literacy and awareness programs, BSP will deliver their 'Whole of BSP' capabilities to the Vanua and Communities where teams in Banking, Asset Finance and Life & Health Insurance, will help landowners grow their personal wealth with a life and health safety net.
Mr Kuruvakadua says that it is important to collaborate on landowners' issue in relations to their lease monies as it is also affecting the socio-economic development and growth of the economy.
"We are glad to enter into this agreement with the BSP to support and assist the landowners in fulfilling the strategic directions that have been set by the Government towards its development action plans," he said.
The MOU is also expected to improve the coordination and dissemination of information and to strengthen the daily interactions of the two entities for an improved service delivery.