VNPF to study micro-pensions for Vanuatu’s informal sector
13 October, 2018, 7:25 am
PORT VILA,12 OCTOBER 2018 (PFIP) – With its informal sector making up about 80% of the working population, Vanuatu is the latest Pacific Island Country that is looking into the introduction of pension products for ni-Vanuatu working in the informal sector.
The United Nation’s Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) is partnering with the Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF) to conduct a feasibility study to determine demand, interest and willingness of informal sector Ni-Vanuatu to contribute to superannuation/pension schemes.
Through customer interviews and focus group discussions, economically active smallholder farmers, fishers, casual workers, market vendors, taxi and bus drivers and other informal sector workers are being consulted on their ability and willingness to voluntarily save for old age security. The study is also taking a sampling of rural dwellers, many of which have been women.
General Manger of VNPF, Parmod Achary said “The VNPF board and management are working on a number of important reforms. These include looking at covering the informal sector, improving internal processes, upgrading our legacy IT systems, exploring use of technology for enhancing member services and offering other value-added services to our members.” He added “the support of PFIP is very timely and we look forward to working closely with them in expanding pension inclusion in Vanuatu.”
PFIP Deputy Programme Manager, Krishnan Narasimhan who has travelled to Vanuatu to conduct the initial scoping work alongside Blue Print Pension services, a Netherlands based consultancy firm with strong expertise on micro-pensions.
He said PFIP will draw from its earlier experience and successfully implementation of a similar scheme in the Solomon Islands.
“We are cognisant of the unique dynamics of Vanuatu that are different from those in Solomon Islands. These will be factored into the feasibility study. With our existing partnerships with National Bank of Vanuatu and Telecom Vanuatu, there will also be an opportunity to explore linkages with VNPF for distribution and member contribution payments.”
With access to formal financial services still a challenge in rural areas and outer islands, PFIP aims to leverage digital technologies to deliver mass market financial services. This is PFIP’s fourth country to explore and pilot micro-pension products for the informal sector. Following the findings of the study, PFIP will consider the possibility of further funding to pilot a micro-pension product in Vanuatu.
The project has received technical assistance from PFIP through funding from the Governments of Australia and New Zealand.