By: Tenzin Sangmo
Phayul Photo: Kunsang Gashon
DHARAMSHALA, Jan 11: At a press conference held this morning at the Kashag Secretariat, the Social and Resource Development Fund (SARD) under the Department of Finance announced a new Summer Livelihood Support Program (SLSP) to be rolled out in 2019.
“It is to support the community member whose major business activity is in the summer season which is more organized,” said the press release issued at the event.
According to a survey undertaken by SARD, it was found that there are over 35 well-established summer retail markets all over India with 1594 shops. SARD selected 13 markets for the inaugural SLSP based on selection criteria that will benefit approximately 600 shopkeepers.
The shopkeeper will be loaned two lakhs each, making the total 12 crores. With an interest of 3%, the program will start in February and loans need to be paid back by July, 2019.
The press conference was presided over by CTA President Dr. Lobsang Sangay, Finance Kalon Karma Yeshi, among others.
SARD, in the past had provided loans to winter sweater sellers, taxi drivers and hawkers, claiming that they saw a swift return of the loans. “USAID has expressed surprise at the 100% return rate and has been supportive of more initiatives,” said Sangay.
Thanking the team for their good work, Sangay said “It is predicted that by 2020, half of the exile Tibetan population will be living abroad. These loan programs are to assist Tibetans living in India, by creating sources of livelihood and jobs.”
Sangay’s administration also introduced the Gang-jong development Finance Pvt. Ltd (Ganjong Finance), that received license from Reserve Bank of India on December 13, 2018 as a Non-Banking Financial Institution (NBFI).
“It is set up as an exclusive and specialized financial institution for Tibetans in India, and is now getting ready for full-scale business operations,” said the press release.
With the brand name of TibFin, the mission is to make the community financially inclusive and to develop services. “We should be able to circulate our own money, and the public can own shares in it,” said Yeshi.
Asked what CTA can do to build trust in the hearts of Tibetan people who had bad experiences in the past, the Finance Kalon said that the programs in the past were private endeavours, inexperienced and unofficial.
“We now have legal certificates, and it is manned by the CTA under the blessing of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. If any issue comes up, RBI rules will apply and disputes can be legally sorted out.”