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Africa News of Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Source: monitor.co.ug

Uganda govt cautions public against unlicensed money lenders

The shilling is Uganda's legal tender The shilling is Uganda's legal tender

The Ugandan government has warned the public against borrowing money from unlicensed microfinance firms to avoid making losses.

The warning was made by the executive director of Uganda Microfinance Regulatory Authority (UMRA), Ms Edith Tusubira, at the Media Centre yesterday.

Ms Tusubira said it had come to their attention that some unlicensed individuals were conducting money lending business in total disregard with the provisions of the law.

“UMRA would like to inform the general public that Tier Four Microfinance Institutions and Money Lenders Act, 2016 is now effective. UMRA has noted with concern the mushrooming unlicensed money lenders around the country conducting business in defiance of the sections under the Tier Four Microfinance Institutions and Money Lenders Act 2016,” she said.

Section 84 of the Tier Four Microfinance Institutions and Money Lenders Act, 2016 prohibits any one from conducting money lending business without a licence.

Ms Tusubira said the illegal money lending companies are taking advantage of desperate people affected by Covid-19 pandemic to cheat them.

“We are informing the general public that the Authority has finalised plans to launch enforcement operations against all those operating outside the law. We encourage borrowers to transact business with only licensed money lenders to avoid being cheated,’’ she said.

Ms Tusubira also warned microfinance firms, which are illegally taking people’s deposits yet they were only licensed as non-deposit taking institutions.

UMRA’s legal officer Sheila Birungi said several borrowers don’t read the loan agreements so they end up signing what they don’t understand.

She urged members of the public to first research about the credit history of any microfinance.
“The law empowers us to revoke licences of all those microfinance firms which work unprofessionally,’’ she said.

Asked what the authority is doing to decentralise its services, Ms Tusubira said they were in the final stages of opening up offices in Arua, Jinja, and Mbarara to ensure a comprehensive coverage.

Ms Sheila Birungi, UMRA’s legal officer, said UMRA has licensed at least 950 microfinance institutions.

About UMRA

The Uganda Microfinance Regulatory Authority (UMRA) is mandated to regulate, license and supervise all the Tier Four Microfinance Institutions and Money Lenders in Uganda.

The Authority was established by section 6 of the Tier Four Microfinance Institutions and Money Lenders Act, 2016. It was regulated to restore investor and consumer confidence in the microfinance industry.

Non-deposit taking institutions fall under Tier four of financial institutions, which consist of Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies (Saccos), member-based organisations such as village and credit institutions, and community-based organisations engaged in microfinance services.

According to Section 69 (3) of the Tier four Microfinance Institutions Act and Money Lenders Act 2016, non-deposit microfinance institutions shall not raise money in form of deposits from individuals.
The Act also stipulates that UMRA shall not renew a license where a non-deposit taking microfinance institution violates the provision of the Act or a condition of a license.

Microfinance Deposit taking Institutions (MDIs) fall under Tier three of financial institutions and are regulated by Bank of Uganda (BoU). These can receive deposits from clients and also offer loans as well.

MDIs are required by law to save a reserve fund with BoU. This money helps to compensate members who have savings in a microfinance in case it runs bankrupt.

Tier one comprises of commercial banks while credit (non-bank financial) institutions fall under Tier two of financial institutions.