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4th National Microfinance Members' Summit concludes with 12-point declaration

B360
B360 February 27, 2024, 5:54 pm
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KATHMANDU: The Fourth National Microfinance Members' Summit concluded in Kathmandu, issuing a 12-point declaration. 

The declaration affirms that the summit's theme, 'Swastha Laghubitta, Samriddha Sadasya', will be actioned. It also states that the 'Ghargharma Uddyam Phailaun, Garibilai Shunya Banaun' (Spread enterprises to households, make poverty zero) campaign, launched at the third summit, will be brought to fruition.

The declaration sets out plans to correct distortions and irregularities in microfinance, initiate an awareness campaign about the categories covered by members and organisations, enhance the conduct of members and employees, and facilitate credit and savings for underprivileged women. It also includes plans to assist the children of members involved in microfinance in becoming young entrepreneurs. 

The declaration also underscores the need to engage the youth in creating an eco-friendly and entrepreneurial society, establish eco-friendly villages, build technology-friendly organisations, and start a campaign to activate inactive members.

At the closing ceremony, House of Representatives (HoR) member Lila Nath Shrestha underscored the grave economic situation of the country and the heightened role of the microfinance and cooperative sector in this context. He stated that the microfinance sector, which operates directly in the community, can help improve the condition of impoverished citizens if it adheres to financial discipline and works in the members' interest. He added that to prevent deviations in this sector, wrongdoers should be penalised, and the state should protect those who act in good faith.

Shrestha voiced concern about the politicisation of the microfinance sector and the rise in agitations in its name. He urged all parties to collaborate to halt such trends. He emphasised that the collapse of financial institutions would mean the loss of ordinary citizens' savings, and called on the government to pay heed to this issue.

Similarly, HoR member Bhagawati Chaudhary pointed out that while 6 million Nepalis live below the poverty line, the microfinance and cooperative sector, with a similar number of members, forms the backbone of the economy. She stressed the importance of the microfinance sector in poverty alleviation and advocated for microfinance to lead the underprivileged citizens. She suggested that microfinance organisations, which prioritise improving the economic, social, and cultural conditions of impoverished citizens, should not only focus on investors' profits but also fulfil their social responsibilities. She expressed concern about the current problems in the microfinance sector, which she attributed to the sector's deviation from the interests of the poor and social responsibility.

Lawmaker Chaudhary noted that the number of microfinance institutions exceeds the requirement, more loans are being disbursed, and members who have taken loans do not understand the responsibility of repayment. She added that the unrest in the microfinance sector has increased, and the sector is now viewed as a usurer. She called for an investigation into the cause of this issue. 
Moreover, MP Chaudhary criticised the weak legal processes, the inability of the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) to regulate itself, and the government's failure to control the situation. She urged the government to take action against financial institutions with bad behaviour, stating that the condition of the entire financial sector is the same.

During the event, Inaruwa Municipality Deputy Mayor Binita Kumari Mehta emphasised that microfinance will improve women's economic status and leadership development. She shared her engagement in the microfinance campaign since 2062 BS and commended the exceptional work of the organisation she is affiliated with. She underscored the significant role of microfinance in supporting women and acknowledged its contribution to her present position.

Shankar Man Shrestha, chairman of the closing programme and the organising committee, highlighted the serious review of the issues in the microfinance and cooperative sector during the summit. He encouraged everyone to commit to implementing the points outlined in the declaration at the community level.

On the second day of the Summit, a focused discussion was held on identifying problems in microfinance and devising their solutions.

 

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During the closing ceremony, awards were presented to exceptional microfinance workers and institutions. This year, Jeeven Bikas Laghubitta Bittiya Sanstha Ltd was recognised as the best in institutional entrepreneurship development and received a cash prize of Rs 100,000.

Various clubs, employees, and organisations promoting the 3 Zero Clubs were also honoured. Special recognition was given to organisations and employees who excelled in the 'Ghargharma Uddhyamshilta Bikas' campaign, those who supported the upliftment of the underprivileged, and the best heads of centre.

The two-day summit, held from February 17 to 18, witnessed the participation of around 800 women entrepreneurs, microfinance and cooperative employees, and members. 
The conference is organised every two years.

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