Poor financial literacy in Sri Lanka helping scammers
ECONOMYNEXT – Ignorance about risks and a focus on rewards only making it easy for people to fall victim for scammers despite having high general literacy and education, a financial professional who is pushing to boost financial literacy said.
Ravi Abeysuriya, who is advocacy chair of the Chartered Financial Analysts Society in Sri Lanka said a survey by Standard and Poor’s found that South Asia had the lowest share of financial literacy.
"On average about 65 percent of adults are financially literate in advanced countries," Abeysuriya said.
"In Sri Lanka it was about 35 percent according to this study."
Abeysuriya said financial literacy was low despite the country high levels of literacy. This was seen not just among the poor or less educated but also among doctors, lawyers and other professionals.
He said a key problem was that people in Sri Lanka were ignorant of risks and simply went by the promise of high interest rates.
Abeysuriya said he had personal knowledge of people like judges who went for illegal deposit schemes due to ignorance and lack of awareness of risks.
"They do not understand that rewards go with risks," he said.
Abeysuriya said poor people were also being victimized by loan sharks and unscrupulous lenders.
Abeysuriya had written a book ‘Financial Literacy to Achieve Your Financial Wellbeing’ to promote financial literacy which is available for download free from the CFA website.
The book would soon be translated to Sinhalese and Tamil.
Books published by the central bank were also made available in the same page, as well as a book on entrepreneurship written by Sidath Kalyanaratne, a CFA.