NCR’s powers to be enhanced
LEGISLATIVE measures are in the offing to curb reckless lending, which continues unabated, Department of Trade and Industry officials said in parliament.
The measures include extending the powers of the National Credit Regulator (NCR) to conduct proactive investigations and impose administrative fines on perpetrators as well as empowering Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies to provide debt relief mechanisms through regulations.
Parliament’s trade and industry committee has approved the proposal to enhance the powers of the NCR.
DA spokesman on trade and industry, Geordin Hill Lewis said the party fully supported the proposals which arose out of a court case involving Capitec, in which the court ruled that the NCR needed a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing to investigate a matter. However, the law did not give the NCR the power to conduct proactive investigations and there was no clarity as to what constituted reasonable suspicion.
The committee has given approval to the department to approach cabinet for the goahead to introduce the proposed National Credit Amendment Bill, which would contain these measures.
This is according to Department of Trade and Industry acting deputy director-general MacDonald Netshitenzhe in his briefing to the committee on the department’s review of national credit policy.
He said one of the weaknesses of the 2014 amendments to the act was that the NCR did not have the power to enforce the act. The department should have the power to effect the speedy and cost-effective resolution of disputes, Netshitenzhe said.
“The NCR should be given the power to order regulated entities to pay administrative fines and give redress to consumers. The National Consumer Tribunal should serve as an appeal and review body for the decisions of the NCR.”
He said the NCR should be given a specific mandate to negotiate settlements of consumer disputes with regulated entities within a defined set of criteria.
“Settlements substantially minimise the time periods of resolving disputes and costs for both the regulator and the regulated entities,” he added.
The department also believed the act should make provision for the introduction of debt relief or debt forgiveness measures to alleviate over-indebtedness in specific economic circumstances.
Also, he said the NCR should be empowered to issue guidelines to industry to provide best practices on the sale of repossessed goods, vehicles and properties by banks and credit providers. — BDLive