By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

PH VISIT. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands is pictured visiting the Philippines in her capacity as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development in 2015. She will travel to the country once again in her UNSGSA role on May 21-23, 2024. (Photo courtesy of UNSGSA)

MANILA – Queen Máxima of the Netherlands is set to visit the Philippines next week to help advance financial inclusion.

The Dutch royalty will travel to the country in her capacity as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA) from May 21-23.

Her visit will focus on advancing key foundational building blocks for financial inclusion — including connectivity, digital identification, and digital payments — as well as enhancing financial health and resilience against economic and climate-related challenges for Filipinos.

“By sharing insights and forging connections between global financial initiatives and local realities, the UNSGSA visit aims to inspire continued progress and innovation in the Philippines’ financial sector,” her office said.

The special advocate will meet with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., Finance Secretary Ralph Recto, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Dr. Eli Remolona Jr., other key policymakers and leaders in the country as well as Asian Development Bank (ADB) president Masatsugu Asakawa to explore collaborative opportunities at a regional level.

Queen Máxima’s office has highlighted the Philippines’ “considerable progress” in financial access in recent years, with the proportion of adults owning a bank account rising from 26.6 percent in 2011 to 51.4 percent in 2021, as reported by the World Bank Global Findex.

“However, despite these gains, the Philippines remains among the world’s top 10 countries with the highest number of unbanked adults at approximately 37.6 million,” it said.

It also noted the “significant concerns” highlighted by Findex data about financial resilience among Filipinos.

The data showed that primary financial worry for 42 percent of adults is covering medical costs in the event of a serious illness or accident, followed by concerns over managing monthly expenses (24 percent) and securing funds for old age (17 percent).

During her Philippine trip, Queen Máxima will hold field visits in Manila and its surrounding areas to hear firsthand from financial services users about innovations that significantly impact their lives, especially those enhancing financial health.

She will engage with public and private sector leaders to discuss support for their expansion.

She will also make a stop at a fisherfolk community to explore last-mile financial solutions that address the unique challenges present in remote island settings.

The UNSGSA previously visited the Philippines from June 29 to July 1 in 2015. (PNA)