Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday said that he was committed to his election promise of providing relief and incentives to poor women who had taken loans from various Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs).

The government has been holding continued discussions with MFIs, following which the outstanding loan amount has been brought down to ₹8,250 crore from 12,500 crore and this will benefit 22 lakh poor and deprived women of the State, the Chief Minister said at a press conference here.

The outstanding loan has come down as MFIs had flouted the norms set by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and these include giving a loan of over ₹1.25 lakh to one group or giving more than one loan to one person or group, he said.

During discussions, it was decided that any loan amount over ₹1.25 lakh would be waived and if there are four outstanding loans against an individual, the fourth loan’s principal and interest amount will be waived, Sarma said.

These measures have brought down the outstanding amount and will go a long way in helping the poor and needy women.

“I had said in all my elections meetings, while campaigning for the BJP, that the loan waiver relief will be for the poor women and not for the middle class or the rich”, he said.

Three groups

The State government has decided to categorise the borrowers in three groups with the first being those women who are paying the loans regularly, he said.

“These women should continue to do so that their CIBIL score is not affected and the government will reward these prompt payers with a one-time incentive,” he said.

The second category are those women who have an overdue, meaning that those who were paying regularly but now has an overdue as they have stopped paying after they heard that the loans will be waived.

“I appeal to this category of women to resume repaying their loan and the goverment will repay the overdue amount,” he said.

In the third category, are those women who have no plans to take any further loans or engage in any further activity and the government will provide them with full relief.

The women taking full waiver will, however, not be able to take any further loans in the future.

Altogether 26 lakh customers with 45 lakh bank accounts have taken loans from 40 lenders with 53 per cent of this amount lent by banks, 22 per cent by Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs) and microfinance institutions, 26 per cent by small finance banks and 16 per cent by regular NBFCs.

The Chief Minister had decided to set up a committee to study the financial implications of waiving off the loans in the first cabinet meeting of the new Council of Ministers held on May 11 with Guwahati Development Department Minister Ashok Singhal as the Chairman and Principal Secretary of Finance and Panchayat and Rural Development as members.

The Chief Minister had directed the committee to prepare a package to provide relief to maximum poor women who had taken loans and are facing immense miseries.

It has been decided that only those loans will be considered which were taken before December 31, 2020 and those with family income of ₹1 lakh, paying income tax, owning four-wheelers or any other such guidelines set by the RBI will not be considered for waiver of loans.