The Assam government on Wednesday said in the assembly that many women have compromised their chastity after failing to repay their loans taken from micro finance institutions (MFIs) in the state. Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that poor women borrow money from MFIs at exorbitant interest rates and the state government has no mechanism to control them as they are governed by RBI guidelines.
"Many women have come to me and told me that many other women have compromised their chastity under the pressure to repay loans taken from micro finance firms. I hope that is not true," Sarma said. According to an estimate, these MFIs have lent Rs 12,000 crore to poor people, mostly women, in Assam without any assessment of their loan repayment capacity, he said.
Sarma took strong objection to suggestions made by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to him about a bill which seeks to protect economically vulnerable groups and individuals from the hardship of usurious interest rates and coercive means of recovery by MFIs or money lending agencies. "The RBI wrote a letter to me yesterday and asked to consult it before passing the Bill. It suggested some amendments also. How can the RBI come into the picture? This is a privilege of the House. If I place the letter in the House, the RBI will face a privilege motion," he said.
The minister said that he will write to the RBI governor about the issue. The assembly passed The Assam Micro Finance Institutions (Regulation of Money Lending) Bill, 2020 unanimously.