Consumer Awareness and Financial Enlightenment Initiative (CAFEi) has urged the government to take seriously the issue of financial literacy and inclusion during post-COVID-19 by educating Nigerians on the importance of savings.
The President of CAFEi, Mrs Debola Osibogun made the call in Lagos on Tuesday.
Osibogun said that Financial Literacy was paid less attention to, than Financial Inclusion in the pre-COVID-19 era, hence, the need to take it seriously for sustainable growth and development.
According to her, the pandemic is generating an unprecedented global health crisis which in turn has critical implications on the financial system both in content and context.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought key financial literacy issues such as savings, taxation, access to credit and use of digital platforms back as topical and germane for debates and implementation.
“Somehow during the current pandemic, majority of households that were unable to save were lucky and able to rely on food banks and generous donors of palliatives to survive.
“The next emergency may be worse and so there is a need for proper re-orientation and education on the importance of savings.
“The COVID-19 experience has taught us that we must now prioritise our spending and save more for an uncertain future,” Osibogun said in a statement.
She said that the effect of the pandemic had put a strain on government sources of revenue as was evident in the decline in crude oil prices.
According to her, the government is likely to take issues such as taxation more seriously as it seeks to diversify its revenue base from crude oil.
The CAFEi boss also advised the government to give taxation as a financial literacy issue, a refocused post-COVID-19 to understand their obligations and expectations from government.
Osibogun also said that there was the need for government to make credit easy and accessible to small businesses as the engine room of the economy but majority of them were struggling.
She said: “The directive given by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to increase Loan Deposit Ratio of Banks to 65 per cent has increased the opportunity to lend to SMEs and in turn save the economy.
“Small businesses, therefore, need to understand terms and conditions on credit contracts and also when to and when not to borrow,” Osibogun said.
She called on the government to create more awareness and educate them about their obligations, expectations and avenues for dispute resolution in loan agreements.
Osibogun also said that another key aspect of financial literacy that needed more consciousness was the importance of familiarising with alternative means of banking.
She said that the closure of banks during the pandemic and the hesitation to use cash because of its capacity to serve as a form of virus transmission brought to the fore the importance of using an alternative mode of banking like online banking and mobile banking.
She recalled that First Bank recorded in the first week of the lockdown 38.5 million transactions from alternative modes of banking.
According to her, this is an indication that the future lies in the alternative mode of banking.
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