People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 11, 2007
Women’s Organisations Oppose Introduction of Micro Finance Bill
TEN national women’s organisations have called upon the UPA government to withhold the tabling of the Micro Finance Sector Development and Regulation Bill, 2007 (earlier known as the NABARD Bill) in this session of the parliament. In a memorandum addressed to the finance minister, they stated that “the bill needs to go through a process of redrafting after a through consultation with all the organisations, groups, activists and academics/experts working in this field so that the full implication and impact of it can be assessed from the point of view of the people that it will affect”.
The bill in its present form has certain fundamental flaws that will put the micro finance organizations (a bulk of which comprise self help groups of women) at the mercy of big corporate players in this sector. The exemption of micro financing institutions, non-banking financial organisations and non profit section 25 companies in this sector from the scope of regulation is unacceptable since these institutions are instrumental in channelising poor people’s savings into the hands of big players. Further, the whole issue of high interest rates charged by the micro-finance institutions is also left unaddressed by the bill. At present, the bill states that the market should determine rates of interest and no ceiling has been placed on how much interest can be charged. This is extremely detrimental to the interests of women.
Finally, the bill proposes NABARD rather than an independent body as the nodal authority without giving the federations of micro-finance organisations any representation in the regulatory body. The need to involve several organisations and groups whose interest should be represented in the regulatory body is negated. Therefore, a democratic gender sensitive independent commission or authority should be formed which can take a holistic approach towards the monitoring of the development of the sector in an economically and socially just manner.
All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA)
All India Women’s Conference (AIWC)
All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Association (AIFAWA)
Centre for Women’s Development Studies (CWDS)
Guild of Services (GoS)
Joint Women’s Programme (JWP)
Muslim Women’s Forum (MWF)
National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW)
All India Co-ordination Committee of Working Women (AICCWW)
Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA)