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NGOs to stand ground during review

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Am Sam Ath, a senior investigator with Licadho, speaks with the media. KT/Mai Vireak

Licadho and Sahmakum Teang Tnaut are set to defend their report on the predatory practices of microfinance institutions in the Kingdom at the Council of Ministers office tomorrow.

The report said two million Cambodians held a total of about $8 billion in loans from MFIs.

It featured seven case studies of abuse, chosen from 28 MFI clients. The interviews were conducted in 10 communes in the provinces of Kandal, Kampong Cham, Tboung Khmum, Prey Veng and the city of Phnom Penh.

On Thursday, the NGOs were told to defend the report after government officials and the National Bank of Cambodia refuted their claims. They were also told to provide solid evidence to support the report.

Am Sam Ath, a senior investigator with Licadho, yesterday said his organisation and Sahmakhum Teang Tnaut are ready.

“Licadho and Sahmakum Teang Tnaut will stand our ground. Our report is to demand that the government conduct more research on the problems to avoid impacts on villagers,” Mr Sam Ath said. “The report isn’t an attack on the government. It comes as a recommendation to ensure that MFIs have morality and virtue. It is also to encourage more research to avoid negative impacts on villagers.”

Soeung Saran, executive director of Sahmakum Teang Tnaut, yesterday said he will come to the meeting, but declined to comment on the case.

Pung Chhiv Kek, president of Licadho, and Mr Saran are to have a closed-door meeting at the office of the Council of Ministers, according to a letter issued by the government’s spokespersons unit.

It said the meeting will focus on MFI companies and their impacts. The meeting will begin at 2.30pm.

Last week, Roth Sovanarak, general director of the NBC’s banking supervision division, demanded the two NGOs provide strong evidence that microloans have harmed borrowers.

Mr Sovanarak said the report does not represent 2.1 million borrowers in the Kingdom.

“These are unsuccessful borrowers. They are not representative of all borrowers in the Kingdom,” he said. “As far as I know, all MFIs are now well-managed. We need more evidence to verify if these borrowers were being abused.”

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