Thank you very much, and thank you for your presentation.
I certainly appreciated having a copy a bit ahead of time so we could read it before we came to the meeting.
I think there is an acknowledgement around the table that there are some benefits to microfinance and microcredit programs, because they can help the world's poorest communities, and they also give women hope and some equity.
The microfinance sector has come under some scrutiny recently, particularly in India. In February, the Winnipeg Free Press published a story entitled, “Indian state pushes microfinance prosecutions after revelations of lender links to suicides”. The government there blamed a spate of suicides on aggressive lending and collection tactics.
I'm not saying that Scotiabank had anything to do with this, nor am I trying to tie your practices to the ones that may have led to the problems in India. However, we know that when lending and borrowing are not conducted in a responsible way, there can be a significant social and economic consequence. We've just seen that south of the border with the housing market meltdown and the mortgage foreclosures.
We also know that some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities here in Canada have been the targets of ruthless, predatory lending practices from the payday loan industry. How can Canadian institutions like yours make sure that predatory lending practices do not take place in the microfinance systems of developing countries?