THE Karas governor, Bernadus Swartbooi, has called on Government to speed up its drive to localise foreign-owned banks.
"We want our own home-grown financial service institutions, especially commercial banks. Currently, banks generally do not respond to the needs of the people. They live completely away from the society and remain exclusive," said Swartbooi.
Speaking at the launch of the Financial Literacy Campaign in Karas and Hardap Region at Keetmanshoop this week, Swartbooi argued that the initiative would be "meaningless" without banks being localised.
Swartbooi also pushed for regions to be allocated with their own budgets, saying the sectoral budget stalls development in the regions.
Officiating at the launch, Deputy Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein concurred with Swartbooi's calls for banking-sector reform.
"We need bank reform that will give meaning to the country's political and development agendas, respond to businesses and consumer needs, and accelerate the country's economy," Schlettwein said.
However, Schlettwein added that the focus should not only concentrate on the banking sector, but also on the insurance and micro-lending sectors.
"We need to embrace all financial institutions, instead of focusing on banks only because they are the best examples," Schlettwein said.
He said the Government would soon launch its Financial Sector Development Strategy to transform the Namibian financial sector over the next 10 years.
The financial literacy initiative is aimed at increasing financial education to small and medium entrepreneurs and low-income earners.
Schlettwein said a lack of financial discipline is manifested in excessive financial commitments, over-indebtedness and difficulty to make ends meet before pay day.
According to Schlettwein, Namfisa statistics show that outstanding short-term loans extended to individuals by micro-lenders in 2011 amounted to N$1,4 billion, while outstanding loans by pay-day lenders amounted to N$100 million.
"It is a trend that does not take us where we want to be by the 2030," Schlettwein remarked.
A FinScope survey has also revealed that 30 per cent of the population is still financially excluded, said Schlettwein.