Rwandans credit worth on the rise

The credit worthiness of Rwandans has improved ever since the credit reference system was launched two years ago.
More Rwandans are getting loans to improve their businesses.  The New Times/File.
More Rwandans are getting loans to improve their businesses. The New Times/File.

The credit worthiness of Rwandans has improved ever since the credit reference system was launched two years ago.

This was disclosed on Monday during the launch of a one-month campaign coded “Step Forward: I have a clean record. Do you? – meant to boost the use of the credit registry information.

As of December last year, non-performing loans were at 6.1 per cent compared to 8.1 per cent of 2011, an achievement the central bank attributes to the credit reference system.

According to the Finance minister, Amb. Claver Gatete, the credit reference system has reduced loan defaulters – a situation, he said, will contribute to the country’s quest to attain middle income status.

“To do that, we need investments of about 30 per cent, savings at about 20 per cent and we need to grow at 11 per cent,” Amb. Gatete, who was until last week the central bank Governor, said.

He stressed the need for an environment where everyone is credible for onward lending and to ensure that those loans are repaid.

From 2010, Credit Reference Bureau Africa (CRB-A) manages data for 1.2 million account holders, with this number expected to increase with the recently launched campaign.

The Managing Director of Duterimbere Micro Finance, Delphin Ngamije, said that customers now feel it’s an obligation to pay back loans since they know that there is no way one can escape.

“One of our customers went to ask for a loan from another bank and was told to come back and pay the loan he had with us.  This has helped us a lot,” Ngamije stated.

Although bankers say the system has diminished the rate of non-performing loans, customers call for improved registry of data from financial institutions.

Sometimes cases of loan defaulters reported are not timely and this affects the customers’ right to loans, said Aimable Nkuranga, the director of CRB-Africa. He added, “The system is not yet able to report to the CRB so that as soon as a customer pays, the debt is cleared.”

Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, who officiated at the launch, urged financial institutions to put in place fair mechanisms to curb bribes in issuing loans.

“We don’t want you to give loans without requisite documents but you ought to tackle the cases of bribe in the process of acquiring a loan get loans. It might affect the payback if a person remembers getting a loan in a shady manner,” the Prime Minister warned.

The one-month campaign will target more financial institutions to register in the CRB as part of efforts to eliminate non-performing loans.

Rwandans are also encouraged to visit CRBs to get information on their payback modalities and claim their rights wherever they think the information is inaccurate.

The credit reference system normally provides credit history and erases doubt where banks fear borrowers could default on loans.

But, financial institutions are also required to report duly and accurately about their clients for the benefit of customers.

Reasons for the inaccuracies include consumers providing inaccurate information to the credit bureaus; incorrect or incomplete data input by furnishers, or failing to provide data to the credit bureau; and incorrect or incomplete data (or data applied to the wrong consumer) by the credit bureau.

Nkuranga said that humans err but encouraged customers to visit credit reference bureaus for information.

So far 14 banks, seven insurance companies and 291 microfinance institutions share data on loans via CRBA.

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