Jamaica News: The Government says it is prepared to entertain stakeholder discussions on aspects of the proposed Microcredit Act that are generating some concern.
State Minister in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Floyd Green, says the Administration has no intention of taking a “big stick” approach to the implementation of the legislation’s provisions.
Mr. Green was speaking at the Jamaica Micro Financing Association Limited’s (JaMFA) seventh annual microfinance sector leadership forum, at The Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston, on Tuesday (May 28).
The State Minister said he has already had discussions with the Minister of Finance and the Public Service (Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke), “which came out of my very first meeting with the Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (MSME) Implementation Task Force, where concerns were raised”.
Mr. Green said Dr. Clarke indicated his willingness to meet with industry stakeholders “to review aspects of the Bill they have a difficulty with”.
The Bill, which was tabled in Parliament by Dr. Clarke in February, is intended to regulate microcredit service providers by ensuring they are licensed by the designated regulatory authority.
They will also be required to keep proper accounting and other records and make timely reports to that authority.
Meanwhile, Mr. Green said he will maintain an open door policy on the matter and advised that he is prepared to meet with stakeholders, such as the advocacy team, comprising representatives of JaMFA and the Jamaica Association of Microfinancing (JaMFIN), which was established to lobby government intervention to address the areas of concern.
He explained that the Act is intended to aid in facilitating the microfinance sector’s growth, safeguard consumers, and ensure that all stakeholders are “playing by fair rules”.
For his part, JaMFA’s Executive Director, Raymond Gabbidon, said the advocacy team will be lobbying the support of both Ministries on the matter.
The Act also seeks to regulate the provision of microcredit services offered by microcredit institutions, in order to ensure that microcredit services may be utilised by micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and individuals to facilitate their financial or economic advancement; and that the interest of borrowers may be protected by discouraging excessive interest rates and predatory lending practices by microcredit institutions.
It prohibits false and misleading advertising by microcredit institutions; and makes it an offence for microcredit institutions to use threats and violence in the process of collecting a debt.
The Bill identifies the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) as the body responsible for accepting complaints against microcredit institutions, investigating complaints against microcredit institutions and formulating a code of conduct for microcredit institutions on consumer-related matters.
Source: JIS News