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9200 lose $710k in savings

Ropate Valemei
Friday, February 21, 2014

ABOUT $710,000 is missing from 9200 microfinance savers accounts in four sectors around Fiji.

And this has led to the government making major reforms of the Micro Financing sector in Fiji.

However, government has approved the reimbursement of those savers provided they produce receipts and proper ID cards in the coming months.

The reimbursement funds will come from various government ministries.

This was confirmed yesterday by Attorney-General and Minister for Industry and Trade Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

He said the matter was investigated by police.

"There have been anomalies existing for Microfinance West which include Kadavu, Nakoilava, Microfinance co-operative Central/Eastern, Microfinance Labasa and Microfinance in tikina Vuya in Bua."

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said this was revealed after the Reserve Bank of Fiji carried out initial queries into micro finance institutions.

He said this was done with the Ministry of Industry and Trade with the assistance of the Ministry of Finance and the Auditor-General's Office that conducted a focused audit of these specific microfinance institutions.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said this was conducted because of the numerous complaints they received.

The Ministry of Trade was involved because National Centre for Small Micro Enterprises Development for a number of years used to give grants to these microfinance institutions.

"A number of 9200 people who had deposited small amounts of money all totalling $712,000 no longer can access those funds.

"This is obviously an enormous abuse of powers by those people who were managing it but it also goes to show that unfortunately microfinance instructions were set up and there was no proper governance as such," Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

He said there were no laws regarding the governance of those institutions.

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