Fair Reporting of Credit Act effective today
Repay outstanding loans, Sayed-Khaiyum urges public; Credit Act now effective
It’s official! The Fair Reporting of Credit Act comes into effect today. With this, regulations that will relate to the Act also come into effect. Attorney-General and Minister for Finance, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said this would give Fijians a clean slate to start from, especially the youth who would not have been in a position to reach out to lending organisations such as banks. RBF has already informed Data Bureau of the Act coming into effect and all current information they have on Fijians would now be sent to RBF and quarantined. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum also outlined how companies can apply to open Credit Reporting agencies in Fiji.
Anyone wanting to open a Credit Reporting Agency would need to apply to the Reserve Bank of Fiji. A licence of 10 years would be given to successful companies. An annual fee of $3000 is applicable and for ten years, $30,000 would need to be paid.
Anyone wanting to be a credit reporting recipient, meaning anyone wanting to know information about individuals, they too would need to apply to the RBF. An annual fee of $1000 would be applicable.
Those who want to be credit information providers, they too need to apply to RBF. For this service, an annual fee of $1000 would be applicable. This means companies who provide information to the agencies would need to get the green light from RBF.
A credit default of more than $300 would only be loaded to the Credit Reporting Agencies. And, if the credit has been in default for more than 60 days, will names of individuals be forwarded to the Credit Reporting Agencies.
More than one company can get licence to be a Credit Reporting Agency in Fiji.
You cannot be a direct financial provider and be a shareholder in the credit reporting agency.
The Act has mechanisms for addressing any grievance whereby any disputes arise from peoples’ names being forwarded to the credit reporting agency, without needing to run to the courts, as has been alluded to by some lawyers. Privacy:
The RBF would need to approve who all gets access to information kept by the Credit Reporting Agencies. Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said credit information individuals were sacrosanct to an extent and privacy was utmost.
Data Bureau, the only credit reporting agency that existed in Fiji till today, had written a letter in which they claimed that Government Members of Parliament needed to reveal how many of their family members had been reported for bad credit before voting in favour of the Act.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said: “It’s precisely the situation that the Act is trying to avoid. Here you have a company that has allegedly written a letter saying, wonder if MPs had their family members had reported to the company. That type of information should not be made available to anybody. That type of information should be made available to the credit reporting agency and to whoever requests that information when an individual applies for a loan. Not for that information to be bandied around even for the staff of a credit reporting agency, or a direct interested parties. It is rather paradoxical that on one hand you are using that type of information and holding it over people’s heads when that is the type of mischief that we are trying to address in the first place. “Now, nobody can simply walk off the street to become a receiver or recipient of your personal information. They have to apply to the Reserve Bank and RBF would have to approve for that person or company to become a credit report recipient.” While Fijians have now been provided a clean slate to start over, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum has urged people to repay their outstanding debts. The law is about providing an equilibrium. The law is about creating a situation where ordinary Fijians have access to service in a fair environment. Government is hoping that this would now attract Credit Reporting Agencies from Australia and New Zealand to open up companies in Fiji. Government hopes to attract Credit Reporting Agencies from Australia and New Zealand apart from local companies to set up credit reporting agencies in Fiji.
Attorney-General and Minister for Finance Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum at the press conference yesterday.