The Reserve Bank of India has released on its website the Report of the Sub-Committee of the Central Board of Directors of Reserve Bank of India to Study Issues and Concerns in the MFI Sector.
The Sub-Committee has recommended creation of a separate category of NBFCs operating in the microfinance sector to be designated as NBFC-MFIs. To qualify as a NBFC-MFI, the Sub-Committee has stated that the NBFC should be “a company which provides financial services pre-dominantly to low-income borrowers, with loans of small amounts, for short-terms, on unsecured basis, mainly for income-generating activities, with repayment schedules which are more frequent than those normally stipulated by commercial banks” and which further satisfies the regulations specified in that behalf.
The Sub-Committee has also recommended some additional qualifications for NBFC to be classified as NBFC-MFI. These are:
- The NBFC-MFI will hold not less than 90% of its total assets (other than cash and bank balances and money market instruments) in the form of qualifying assets.
- There are limits of an annual family income of Rs.50,000 and an individual ceiling on loans to a single borrower of Rs.25,000
- Not less than 75% of the loans given by the MFI should be for income-generating purposes.
- There is a restriction on the other services to be provided by the MFI which has to be in accordance with the type of service and the maximum percentage of total income as may be prescribed.
The Sub-Committee has recommended that bank lending to NBFCs which qualify as NBFC-MFIs will be entitled to “priority lending” status. With regard to the interest chargeable to the borrower, the Sub-Committee has recommended an average “margin cap” of 10 per cent for MFIs having a loan portfolio of Rs. 100 crore and of 12 per cent for smaller MFIs and a cap of 24% for interest on individual loans. It has also proposed that, in the interest of transparency, an MFI can levy only three charges, namely, (a) processing fee (b) interest and (c) insurance charge.
The Sub-committee has made a number of recommendations to mitigate the problems of multiple-lending, over borrowing, ghost borrowers and coercive methods of recovery. These include :
- A borrower can be a member of only one Self-Help Group (SHG) or a Joint Liability Group (JLG)
- Not more than two MFIs can lend to a single borrower
- There should be a minimum period of moratorium between the disbursement of loan and the commencement of recovery
- The tenure of the loan must vary with its amount
- A Credit Information Bureau has to be established
- The primary responsibility for avoidance of coercive methods of recovery must lie with the MFI and its management
- The Reserve Bank must prepare a draft Customer Protection Code to be adopted by all MFIs
- There must be grievance redressal procedures and establishment of ombudsmen
- All MFIs must observe a specified Code of Corporate Governance
For monitoring compliance with regulations, the Sub-Committee has proposed a four-pillar approach with the responsibility being shared by (a) MFI (b) industry associations (c) banks and (d) the Reserve Bank.
While reviewing the proposed Micro Finance (Development and Regulation) Bill 2010, the Sub- Committee has recommended that entities governed by the proposed Act should not be allowed to do business of providing thrift services. It has also suggested that NBFC-MFIs should be exempted from the State Money Lending Acts and also that if the recommendations of the Sub-Committee are accepted, the need for the Andhra Pradesh Micro Finance Institutions (Regulation of Money Lending) Act will not survive.
The Sub-Committee has cautioned that while recognising the need to protect borrowers, it is also necessary to recognise that if the recovery culture is adversely affected and the free flow of funds in the system interrupted, the ultimate sufferers will be the borrowers themselves as the flow of fresh funds to the microfinance sector will inevitably be reduced.
It may be recalled that the Reserve Bank of India in October 2010 set up a Sub-Committee of its Central Board of Directors to study the issues and concerns in microfinance sector, under the Chairmanship of Shri Y H Malegam, a senior member on the Reserve Bank’s Central Board of Directors. Other members of the Sub-Committee included Shri Kumar Mangalam Birla, Dr. K C Chakrabarty, Deputy Governor, Smt. Shashi Rajagopalan and Prof. U R Rao. Shri V K Sharma, Executive Director, Reserve Bank of India was the Member Secretary to the Sub-Committee.
Download the complete report here.