Hardship loans for VNPF members

Members queuing at VNPF. Photo: Kizzy Kalsakau

Members of the Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF) that lost their jobs due to the coronavirus crisis can access no-interest loans under the Members Financial Services Limited (MFSL) to support them financially.

While there is no provision in the VNPF Act to allow for any emergency withdrawals, VNPF has created this hardship loan as an alternative to assist members, said the General Manager (GM) of VNPF, Parmod Achary.

“The ground of withdrawals is hardship that is caused by loss of jobs,” he said.

“The hotel industry has laid off a lot of employees. Similar reduction is shown in retail and other sectors.”

Under the hardship loan, members are allowed to get an amount of Vt10,000 up to Vt100,000, according to the GM.

“They are to decide within six months whether they want to repay or not.

“If not, an indemnity has to be given however, there are restrictions for offset withdrawal,” he said.

“It is indirectly a withdrawal but more flexible. We encourage members to repay and build VNPF balance. Once you withdraw, you loose your balance as there is no provision to repay.

“I anticipate that a lot of members will want to build their balances because of the new benefits -education, housing and medical we are introducing.

“The loan is interest free until members make up their mind.”

Following demands from the members to access part of their savings due to the current coronavirus situation, GM Achary explained that any decision taken has to be guided by legislation.

“The funds for the hardship loan comes from members’ saving accounts. The funds will be taken from the investment and medisave accounts.

“We are mindful for the low-income earners. We could use both investment and medical accounts for them.”

Meanwhile, a lot of members have approached VNPF yesterday (Wednesday) and queued for the hardship loan.

GM Achary said VNPF will be opening office from 7am until late, starting yesterday and also on Saturdays up to 2pm to assist interested members.

Priority will be given to hotel and retail employees who lost their jobs, he said.

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