Daily Dispatch

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

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