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General News of Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Source: Cameroon Tribune

"We'ii Carryout Aggressive Campaigns"

Interview of Musa Shey Nfor, President of the Association of Micro-finance Institutions of Cameroon on what they will do to reinforce a ministerial instructions on the issuance of certificates of non-indebteness to deserving customers.

The Minister of Finance has come out with a release obliging micro-finance institutions to issue certificates of non-indebtedness to their clients seeking them in 30 years. Why are they reticent in giving out the document?

Let me start by putting things in the right context of the communiqué or release from the Minister of Finance. The Minister has actually requested Micro Finance Institutions as well as other financial institutions to facilitate the issuance of certificates of non-indebtedness as opposed to obliging them as you put in your question. That said, may I go further to add that he is actually calling on some MFI's who have been reluctant to issue such certificates to deserving members or clients to henceforth respect the freedom of opening as well as closing accounts in MFI's. As to why some MFI's are reticent in giving out the said document, we need to analyze on a case by case basis as it is not a rule in the micro finance sector especially as MFIs are categorized from category I to III. To the best of my knowledge, most of the cases I have come across have to do with members and/or clients who even though indebted in one way or the other to the said MFIs have tried to play a fast one by obtaining such certificates in order to transfer their accounts to other institutions thereby refusing to meet up with their financial obligations. However, there have equally been cases where overzealous MFIs have prevented deserving account holders from obtaining the certificates or attestations.

What does the law say when it comes to issuing the document?

In the context of the categorization I mentioned above, we need to understand here that Category I MFIs which are financial cooperatives are essentially governed by the OHADA Uniform Act on Cooperative Societies, COBAC Regulations on the Exercise of Micro Finance Activities in the CEMAC Region, as well as other derived instruments. As to what concerns category II and III which are to a large extent regulated by the OHADA Uniform Act on Commercial Companies in addition to the COBAC exigencies, the situation is a little more different especially as they deal with clients instead of members. In either case, the bylaws, internal rules and regulations clearly define the conditions for membership and/or customer ship to the extent that the issuing of attestation of non-indebtedness should not pose a problem once people meet up with the laid down conditions. Again, I must join the Minister of Finance in condemning anybody who decides to violate such laid down freedom. May I go further to add that there are many established cases of many fraudulent mobile members and/or clients who trade in account opening and closing.

What are you going to do to ensure the respect of this ministerial order?

In my position as the President both of ANEMCAM and CamCCUL, I have already passed on directives to my collaborators at different levels to respect the Minister's directives. Furthermore, we will embark on an aggressive sensitization of MFIs to respect this administrative disposition while urging dubious members and/or customers/clients to meet up with their obligations so that the Minister should have less to do in this business of issuing attestations or certificates on non-indebtedness.

In case of any resistance, is there room for sanctions within your association? If yes, which are they?

In case of wrongful resistance, we have established mechanisms and code of ethics to protect members and clients. However, pedagogic compliance is better than disciplinary sanctions.

I equally use this opportunity to call on all the stakeholders in the micro finance sector to exercise maximum decency in repaying their financial obligations promptly instead of trying to evade repayment as has been observed in some cases.