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FM hopeful of early passage of micro-finance Bill

The Bill seeks to empower the Reserve Bank to regulate the micro-finance industry and fix a ceiling on interest rates on loans to be provided by lenders

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Finance Minister P today said the proposed Bill on institutions will provide adequate legislative framework for development and regulation of the sector.

The Micro Finance Institutions (Development and Regulation) Bill, 2012 is currently being scrutinised by a Parliamentary Standing Committee.

"We are hopeful that the Bill will be cleared by the Standing Committee, then brought to for passage. Once the bill is passed, I hope that it will provide an adequate legislative framework for the entire gamut of micro-finance services," he said at MicrofinanceIndia Summit 2012 here.

The Bill seeks to empower the Reserve Bank to regulate the micro finance industry and fix a ceiling on interest rates on loans to be provided by lenders.

The Bill, which was drafted in the backdrop of problems faced by borrowers of MFIs in Andhra Pradesh and other states, seeks compulsory registration of MFIs with the RBI.

Stating that MFIs play an important role in financial inclusion, Chidambaram said, "responsible financing by way of transparency, interest rate rationalisation, respectful recovery procedure" are among the challenges the MFI sector faces.

He asked MFIs to verify data on borrowers with credit bureau so as to avoid multiple borrowing or over indebtedness.

"I will request the micro finance sector to adapt itself to the expectation of public at large especially with regard to their code of conduct," Chidambaram said.

Micro finance -- the business of doling out small loans at high interest rates to poor people who are unable to access conventional lending instruments -- has come under intense regulatory scrutiny in the wake of an Act passed by the Andhra Pradesh government.

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