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Punjab: Demonetisation hits micro-finance scheme

Non-payment of instalments was the biggest issue at the village-level meeting of all the groups held at Ghariala village on Feburary 15. Most of the members in self-help groups are Dalit women

Written by KAMALDEEP SINGH BRAR | Tarn Taran |
February 23, 2017 12:24:55 pm

DEMONETISATION HAS badly affected the micro-finance scheme, Punjab State Rural Livelihood Mission (PSRLM), as most of the poor beneficiaries are finding it difficult to pay back loan instalments since the change in currency took place. Besides, new self-help groups under the scheme have been finding it difficult to set the pace due to new rules introduced by the government aimed at making a cash-less economy.

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Ghariala village in Valtoha block of Tarn Taran district has 17 such groups under the scheme. Avinash, a Dalit woman, is president of all the groups.

“All the groups have been suffering due to demonetisation. Around 90 per cent of the instalments have stopped. There was dent in the income of daily labourers after demonetisation and it stopped paying loan instalments. We had 12 old and five new groups. Members of new groups have not got the loan amount as banks were busy changing currency for the last four months,” said Avinash.

Non-payment of instalments was the biggest issue at the village-level meeting of all the groups held at Ghariala village on Feburary 15. Most of the members in self-help groups are Dalit women.

“Earlier, all the groups were doing well. But, only one group in our village has remained unaffected by demonetisation and that, too, because most members of the group are non-Dalits with a fixed income,” said Avinash.

“Demonetisation has affected the instalments to some extent. We have asked the members to pay half the instalments. Now, things are getting back on track again,” said Gurpreet Kaur, Tarn Taran district programme manager for the scheme.

Five new groups in Ghariala had come into existence till October 2016. But the loan amount to these groups could not be released due to long queues outside the banks.

Community worker Budh Singh said, “At least three members are required to withdraw the cash from the bank. Most of them are daily labourers and it was very difficult to find three members free for a day to stand in queue. Earlier, members used to deal in cash. Now, everyone would be needed to operate through cheques. Most of the members are illiterate and they will take time to understand the process. We have released the new cheques to the five new groups in February and members would need to withdraw money from their accounts.”

Around Rs 1 crore has been circulated among different groups in the Valtoha block. Most of the groups have been hit by demonetisation.

“Most of our groups were running successfully until demonetisation happened. These groups work on faith and confidence. It would be a tough job for us to restore faith and confidence again. But we hope to make the circulation of money smooth again,” said an official not wanting to be named.

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