Teaching wise money management

National Bank seriously concerned about financial literacy of population
By Alexey Aksenov

Everyone needs a certain degree of economic understanding in order to budget their income and expenditure and use financial services wisely. Almost half of the population has a credit history — long or short — but, naturally, we need to understand the risks before borrowing money and be aware of our ability to meet repayments, to avoid gaining a bad credit history. People also need to appreciate the most profitable form of holding savings.

The National Bank’s current plan aims to enhance financial literacy over the coming five years — as approved with the Government. The Deputy Chair of the National Bank, Sergey Dubkov, notes that they have spent 18 months working on the plan and are now keen to see it in action.

Naturally, joint efforts are always more effective, so the Association of Belarusian Banks, which unites most players on the market, is helping in the national campaign, alongside the Ministries for Economics, Finance, Labour and Social Protection, and Information. They are joined by the Sociology Institute at the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus and by the National Statistics Committee.

Ideally, people’s understanding of how to manage their finances should improve in a measurable way; polls and target groups will be used to gauge this. Moreover, a Financial Literacy textbook is to be released, with schools running classes in this sphere, as agreed with the Education Ministry. Mr. Dubkov is convinced that the foundations of economic knowledge should be ‘cultivated’ as early as possible. “Otherwise, as recent research shows, university graduates may be unaware of elementary economic terms, unless they have studied specific professional specialities. We’ll run financial literacy courses at universities to tackle this situation,” notes Mr. Dubkov.

The National Bank is joining others worldwide in pursuing an international goal of public financial awareness, encouraging people to save wisely — rather than hoarding money ‘under the mattress’. Naturally, by putting money to work, we benefit not only ourselves but the economy. Citizens may be distrustful of bonds issued in Belarus, knowing little about them, so this is clearly an area for education.

Deputy Economy Minister Dmitry Golukhov forecasts, “The long-term effect should be greater volumes of ‘visible’ savings, bringing this money into circulation and reducing the dependence of the national economy on external financing. This should promote more stable development.”

Macro-economics has its foundation in micro-economics, down to well thought-out planning of family budgets. While children will no doubt enjoy learning about the ‘grown up’ world of spending, saving and borrowing, adults will also be targeted by the plan via a TV quiz soon to be broadcast.
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