Microfinance institutions have urged the Centre to consider prioritising vaccinations for their employees and self-help group workers in order to ensure that lines of credit remain open for the poor amidst the rising second wave of COVID-19 infections.
In a missive to the Ministries of Finance, Home Affairs and Health and Family welfare, the association of community development finance institutions Sa-Dhan on Friday said that micro-finance institutions (MFIs) have been allowed to function just like banks amidst the present spate of partial lockdowns as they perform an essential service for the poor.
Following the exodus of the poor people experienced during the first wave of COVID 19 and its challenging impact on their economy, perpetual operations of microfinance is indispensable, the MFIs have stressed.
“Microfinance sector is serving around 102 million accounts (including banks and small finance banks) of poor population of India. Microfinance envisages on promotion of livelihoods of marginalized population, (and) is high touch point-based operation as the employees of MFIs invariably need to meet clients, individually or in small groups,” Sa-Dhan executive director said in the letter.
“As we know, the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through droplets generated while an infected person coughs, sneezes, or exhales. Considering the stated fact, the employees, despite of complying the guidelines of MHA, have high probability of getting infected by COVID 19,” he pointed out.
“It is necessary that these frontline workers are prioritized in Covid vaccination so they could keep up their services without any fears and apprehensions. We would like to appeal to Government of India, to create a special window for the employees of MFIs and also SHG functionaries for faster vaccination and keep the supply of finance to the poor population intact. We would be able to coordinate with State and District administrations to ensure the operationalization of the programme,” concluded the missive, which is also marked to the National Rural Livelihoods Mission under the Rural Development ministry.
As per the Bharat Microfinance Report 2020, MFIs operate in 28 States, 5 Union Territories and 593 districts in India with branch network of 19,073 and 1.52 lakh employees. Apart from MFIs, microfinance sector includes the employees of Self-Help Group operators, both government and private sectors.
Source: Read Full Article