Speech by The Deputy Governor of The Reserve Bank of Fiji, Mr Esala Masitabua at The Launch of Bsp Life’s New “Bula Secure” And “Bula Secure Plus” Single Premium Products, 4 March 2020, BSP Life Centre, Suva.
It is indeed an honour to be invited to officiate in this launch of BSP Life’s newest products, “Bula Secure” and “Bula Secure Plus”. I wish to thank Michael for the invitation and at the onset, congratulate BSP Life for yet another thoughtful product offering which very much aligns to the institution’s vision “To be the leading provider of insurance products in its chosen markets”.
Importance of the Insurance Industry
A thriving insurance industry is critical to the growth and sustainability of any economy. The risk transfer role and pooling of these risks enable insurance companies to offer safeguards or assure a level of financial resilience for individuals, families, communities, businesses, financial institutions and the economy as a whole.
In January of this year, the Governor presented the Insurance Annual Report 2018 to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economic Affairs highlighting that the life insurance sector’s total assets grew by 14.2 percent to $1.4 billion over 2018, underpinned by the growth in investments in Government securities and equities.
BSP Life is one of two companies licensed to conduct life insurance business in Fiji. Both companies are institutional investors and have and continue to contribute immensely to the growth and development of the country over many years. BSP Life as an institution has its origins in Fiji dating back over 140 years and we have witnessed a remarkable expansion of their operations over recent years, not only in Fiji but also in the region. Total assets as at 31 December 2019 was reported at $770 million showing a growth of 60 percent over 5 years (31 December 2014:$482.8 m).
Fiji’s Financial Inclusion Journey Allow me to link this morning’s event to the multi-stakeholder partnership and collaborative financial inclusion journey that the Reserve Bank of Fiji initiated under the umbrella of the National Financial Inclusion Taskforce. When we started in 2009, the focus was very much on financial education and the accessibility of financial services, reaching out to the under-served, the bottom of the pyramid, going the last mile.
Over the years and through the concerted efforts of our NFIT members and partners, we have made significant progress in financial education and accessibility of financial services. Initiatives in this space include the introduction of financial education to the national primary and secondary school curricula impacting around 200,000 students in Years 1-12, producing three well-received seasons of the Noda i Lavo television program, coordination and participation in a number of country- wide financial inclusion expositions, hosting of the Financial Education Innovation Awards and the introduction of Fiji’s first bundled insurance product and a number of savings and investment products with minimum fees. More recently, our financial inclusion efforts have shifted towards ensuring that financial services have a positive impact on livelihoods. As a result, we are placing a greater focus on product design, affordability and convenience by promoting the digital platform as an efficient medium for access. Product design in particular, which directly relates to this morning’s launch, plays an important role in improving accessibility of financial services.
A Financial Services Demand Side Survey we conducted in 2014, concluded that only 12 percent of the Fijian population surveyed had any type of life insurance and 30 percent felt insurance was too expensive. I am happy to advise that the percentage of people with life insurance in Fiji in 2018 has grown to 42 percent. However, we note that this growth is predominantly for life insurance coverage that provides protection only, in the event of untimely loss, and does not have the extended benefit of inbuilt investments and savings. Endowment products which have both protection and investments or savings still have low coverage at less than 15 percent of our population.
I am confident that the BULA SECURE, BULA SECURE PLUS together with the BULA DELITE launched just over a year ago will continue to help grow this coverage.
Fiji Economy and Outlook Please allow me to make a few comments on the economy before I conclude.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the launch of these single premium products today is indicative of BSP Life’s continuous efforts to offer innovative products designed to meet the needs of our people.
I wish to once again congratulate BSP Life for its contribution towards the insurance industry and the country as a whole.
I will leave it to the experts to explain further on the features and benefits of the products but have much pleasure in officially launching the new single premium products – “Bula Secure and Bula Secure Plus” and wish BSP Life every success in the roll-out of the two products.
Thank you and Vinaka Vakalevu.