The Lagos State Government has commenced the process for the review of its proposed laws regulating money lender’s activities in the state, saying there was the need to repose confidence in the industry.
State Commissioner for Home Affairs, Prince Anofiu Elegushi, who stated this at a “Stakeholders Forum” to examine the laws guiding the activities of money lenders in the state, held in Alausa, Ikeja, at the weekend, noted that the forum became necessary so as to deliberate on the proposed regulations and find a mutually beneficial ground.
The theme of the forum, was “Unlocking the potentials of Money Lenders Business in Lagos State.”
The Ministry of Home Affairs is saddled with the responsibility of issuing money lender’s license to applicant in addition to drafting of a new law to regulate, monitor, supervise, enforce and license money lender’s activities in the state and other connected matters.
According to Elegushi: “As regulators, we cannot be a judge in our own case, this is why we have called on all of you practitioners and would-be practitioners to look at the laws guiding our activities, discuss and agree on grey areas as they affect both the Regulators and Practitioners in the state.”
The commissioner, also noted that some of the laws guiding the operations of money lending requires a total overhauling while others have become obsolete and archaic, hence, the need to have a new law and regulations that will have a friendly approach to government, practitioners and the beneficiaries who constitute the larger picture of society.
Elegushi, therefore, urged the stakeholders to make inputs and suggestions that will help in the formulation of policies and laws as the ministry approach the state House of Assembly for a more robust and encompassing Amendment on the laws on money lending.
He stated that most times, there had been issues of some dubious operators who have gone to the extent of scamming unsuspecting borrowers leveraging on lack of instruments from appropriate authorities to escape the long arms of law.
He, therefore, reiterated the support of the administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in creating an enabling environment for easy loan accessibility to the citizens with an emphasis on pragmatic strategies for achieving positive and cost-effective results in grassroots financing which will invariably help in achieving the T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda in which ‘Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy’ can become a reality.
Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mrs. Adebunmi Adekanye, stated that the meeting was important and timely as matters relating to finances cannot be taken with levity.
According to her, “This forum is aimed at providing a robust and fulfilled deliberation on the review of the law and other allied matters that will be of great benefits to the regulations, operations and also the borrowers so as to protect the interest of all stakeholders in the industry.”
Part of the reasons for the forum according to Adekanye was to discuss and fine-tune the processing measures that will go a long way in bringing sanity and a stress-free application process in line with the T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda of the present Administration.
The Director Home Affairs, Mrs. Olubunmi Fatinikun, in her address, noted that the vision of the state to become Africa’s Model Mega City and Global Economic and financial hub hinges upon Public-Private Partnership (PPP), Rule of Law, Transparency and Accountability, Good Governance and participatory planning, among others.
She stated that the huge formality associated with banks and microfinance banks pertaining to borrowing clearly necessitated the need for financial intermediation and assistance.
Fatinuku stated that all money lenders operating in the state must obtain a valid license from the ministry for a smooth and legal operation of their businesses while advising borrowers to only patronize licensed money lenders.
Highlights of the laws to be reviewed includes, creation of a Department in the Ministry of Home Affairs to deal with the issue of registration; issuance, enforcement, renewals, enquires and other assigned roles, Abolishment of Magistrate ordinance Form B and C for registration, advertisement for lenders, life span of license to have a 12-month duration, online lending among others.
Dr. Yinka Adewusi, speaking to the theme, which took participants through some Innovations, challenges and opportunities linked with money lenders with a view of bringing them up to speed on international best practices.
Other dignitaries at the event included: the Chairman House Committee on Home Affairs, David Setonji, state House of Assembly Members, chief executives of Money Lenders organizations, financial institutions, officials from the state Ministry of Justice, among others.