Bihu offer for women borrowers in Assam
Women borrowers in Assam who have not been able to repay loans can look forward to a Bihu offer.
Industry bodies of microfinance lenders in the country on Thursday announced a Bihu offer for stressed women microfinance borrowers in Assam.
This had to be done as about 40 to 50 per cent of borrowers from microfinance institutions in Assam had defaulted in their payments.
Till September, the track record in repayment was the third best in the country which has now slipped to almost the bottom, forcing the lenders to rethink.
There are 27 lakh people in Assam who borrow from 26 microfinance institutions. Till December last year, the loan outstanding in Assam was Rs 11,845 crore to 26.9 lakh customers. All these are women borrowers.
Microfinance Institutions Network (MFIN) and Sa-Dhan, two RBI-recognised microfinance self-regulatory organisations, have jointly initiated Bihu Aarthik Swaavalamban, offering three-pronged relief — microfinance loan repayment at lower monthly instalment, repayment at a lower rate of interest and availing of prompt repayment benefits on prompt and regular payment and closure of existing loan.
This relief is effective immediately and can be availed of on an individual basis till April 15. It needs to be discussed, availed of or implemented strictly in consultation directly with the lender.
The Bihu Aarthik Swaavalamban initiative will immensely help in improving individual credit score of stressed microfinance women borrowers, making them eligible for fresh loans from any other lender, the MFIN said.
Chief executive officer, MFIN, Harsh Shrivastava, on Thursday said, “Assam was the third best state on repayment efficiency till September last. We are delighted to offer these measures to customers who have missed their payments in the last three to four months due to various reasons. This has been done after extensive consultations with all stakeholders, including clients, our regulator RBI, local associations and the state government, with all types of lenders. This seeks to help clients come back on their repayment and improve their credit record in the bureau which is the key for any future loans,” he said.
“This package is the Assam microfinance sector’s helping hand to stressed clients to get back on track. This Bihu, we want clients to regain their respect and credibility. Being a non-performing asset (NPA), with payment due of more than 90 days, is avoidable for any individual women borrower’s credit bureau record, making it
impossible for them to get any fresh loans,” chairperson, MFIN Board, Manoj Nambiar, said.
Executive director of Sa-Dhan, P. Satish, said, “We urge clients not to get confused and distracted by rumours in the field. Clients should do the needful to contact their lenders directly and work out the payments to become a regular client again.”
Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had said in his recent budget speech that the state government would frame detailed guidelines for the operations of the Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) in the state.