The Development of India’s Financial Inclusion Agenda—Some Lessons for Pakistan

Publication Year : 2015

Financial Inclusion has assumed a vital position in the Public Policy discourse of developing economies. Provision of financial services to the otherwise excluded strata of the society enhances their potential to climb the economic ladder of opportunity and prosperity. Access to financial services to the otherwise excluded impacts their quality of life and enables the less privileged to increase and diversify their incomes, improve their social and economic conditions. Due to lack of access to financial services, most poor households have to rely on their meagre savings or money lenders which limit their ability to actively participate and benefit from the development process. The main theoretical arguments that economic theory postulates regarding the failure of financial markets in percolating poor and rural areas are of informational asymmetries, difficulties in contract designing and enforcement, greater transaction costs. The demand side aspects may be low demand for such services, arising from illiteracy, less investment opportunities in rural areas and difficult loan contracts [Basu (2006)]. When households are access constrained with respect to financial services, it becomes one of the important reasons for persisting inequalities. Economic theory suggests that unrelenting inequalities has a negative impact on the long term growth prospects of an economy [World Bank (2007)]. While establishing causality between financial development and economic growth has been quite tedious, with no simple answers, the evidence of a strong link between financial development and economic growth has continued to rise [Gattoo and Akhtar (2014)]. The interest in the financial inclusion discourse across developing and developing world stems from the recognition that a strong and vibrant financial system does not necessarily imply increasing financial to all across the societal divide [Honohan (2003)].

Muneeb Hussain Gattoo,

S. M. Jawed Akhtar