329 complaints against unlicensed credit providers amounting to more than $400K over 4 years

329 complaints against unlicensed credit providers amounting to more than $400K over 4 years

By Sheral Roshan
Wednesday 10/07/2024
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Co-operatives, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and Communications Manoa Kamikamica

Concerns continue to be raised by people on the impact of unlicensed credit providers, with the Consumer Council of Fiji receiving 329 complaints over the past four years amounting to $452,614.82.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Co-operatives, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and Communications Manoa Kamikamica say these unlicensed credit institutions have engaged in various unethical practices such as charging unjustified fees, misrepresenting loan conditions, failing to deliver items purchased on hire purchase, delaying refunds of over-payments, imposing predatory loan conditions and withholding loan documents from consumers.

He says it has harmed consumers, burdening them with unnecessary debt and financial stress.

Kamikamica says the Government’s commitment to addressing these issues is that they cannot allow unlicensed credit providers to continue exploiting our citizens.

Kamikamica says they work towards amending the Reserve Bank of Fiji Act 1983 to include regulatory oversight for these entities.

He says credit providers can choose not to register as a financial institution but continue to operate, exempting them from oversight by the RBF.

He further says the Government is dedicated to promoting consumer protection improving governance and compliance among credit providers, and fostering fair competition in the credit market.

Consumer Council of Fiji CEO Seema Shandil welcomes the commitment from the Deputy Prime Minister, saying the complaints they received against unlicensed credit providers are alarming and unacceptable.

She says these practices are not only unethical but also negatively impact the finance sector as a whole.

Shandil further says the Council has faced significant challenges in seeking redress for consumers due to the lack of regulatory oversight.

Meanwhile, Kamikamica confirmed the Ministry and the Council will work closely with the Reserve Bank of Fiji and other relevant Ministries to bring about amendments to the Reserve Bank of Fiji Act 1983 to ensure regulatory oversight and supervision of unlicensed credit providers.

The Deputy Prime Minister says the proposed regulatory changes will have several positive impacts, including enhanced consumer protection from exploitation, improved governance and compliance among credit providers, and the promotion of fair competition and market efficiency, and ultimately benefiting consumers and the economy.

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