By Darryl John Esguerra

QUEEN VISIT. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. meets with Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, during a courtesy call at Malacañang Palace on Wednesday (May 22, 2024). The Queen is on state visit to the country to champion financial health and resilience. (Presidential Photojournalists Association)

MANILA – Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, in her capacity as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA), has vowed to support inclusive finance and financial health efforts in the Philippines, Malacañang said Thursday.

Queen Máxima, currently in the country for a three-day visit, paid a courtesy call to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. at the Malacañang Palace on Wednesday afternoon.

In a news release, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said Queen Máxima’s visit focuses on advancing key foundational building blocks for financial inclusion such as connectivity, cybersecurity, digitization, and interoperable payments, as well as how to help Filipinos improve their financial health and build resilience to economic and climate shocks.

These issues are especially important for underserved groups, including farmers and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), in the country, the PCO said.

It said Queen Máxima “offered to help connect the Philippines to her development partners to share best practices, particularly to support efforts to improve connectivity.”

Marcos expressed appreciation for Queen Máxima’s offer of support.

“Well, that’s a very, very handsome offer. Thank you very much, Your Majesty,” the President said.

He said there are already projects in the pipeline to improve the internet connectivity in the Philippines, noting that the country has the full capacity to address the issue.

Marcos also expressed his appreciation for Queen Máxima’s concern to the Philippines, especially the MSMEs.

The Special Advocate also thanked the Philippine government for the warm welcome extended to her, the PCO said.

Queen Máxima first visited the Philippines in 2015 when she attended the launch of the National Strategy for Financial Inclusion (NFSI), a government action plan that aims to ensure national coordination in the design, implementation, and monitoring of policies and programs supportive of financial inclusion.

In her three-day visit, Queen Máxima visited Talim Island in Rizal province to assess the financial inclusion of the fisherfolk community, including smallholder farmers.

She is also scheduled to speak with a women’s focus group in Manila on how financial services contribute to financial health and resilience.

In both her UN work and in the Netherlands, she has championed financial health as a guiding principle in developing policies and financial products that are attuned to people’s needs. (PNA)