MOREthan 2000 residents of Port Moresby have celebrated the recent completion of a financial literacy course, bringing the total number of course graduates to more than 135,000 in PNG.

The course is part of the Microfinance Expansion Project (MEP), an initiative of the Government of Papua New Guinea which is supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Australia.

A recent graduation ceremony was held at the Sione Kami Memorial Church in Port Moresby, led by Ellison Pidik, assistant governor of the Financial System Stability Group of  Bank of PNG and chairman of the project’s steering committee, with Marcelo Minc, country director of ADB’s Papua New Guinea Resident Mission and Rod Hilton, minister counsellor for the Australian High Commission inPort Moresby.

“The financial literacy programme provides basic financial knowledge to huge numbers of rural people,” said Mr. Pidik. “This will enable them to open bank accounts and get better access to financial services.”

The project, which was launched in April 2012, aimed to increase financial inclusion in PNG and provide financial literacy training to 130,000 people by the end of 2018 but has already exceeded this goal by 5000 people. It continues to support the economic and social empowerment of women, with women making up almost half of all trainees to date.

“The MEP also supports partner financial institutions in their efforts to roll out suitable financial services,” said Mr. Minc from the ADB.

“This will result in financial institutions that are more profitable, reliable, and safe.”