Banking

AG slams banks over Data Bureau

The Association of Banks in Fiji (ABIF) has come under fire for warning of rises in interest rates and delays after the closure of credit reporting agency Data Bureau (Fiji) Limited last month. The Attorney-General and Minister of Finance Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the statement from the ABIF warning of increased lending rates was absurd. SAYED-KHAIYUM: […]

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May 9, 2016 9:31 am

The Association of Banks in Fiji (ABIF) has come under fire for warning of rises in interest rates and delays after the closure of credit reporting agency Data Bureau (Fiji) Limited last month.

The Attorney-General and Minister of Finance Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the statement from the ABIF warning of increased lending rates was absurd.

SAYED-KHAIYUM: “This statement is preposterous as before the Data Bureau being in existence, a decrease in lending rates was not publicly touted as a reason for he introduction of the credit reporting services performed by Data Bureau.”

READ: Banks warn of interest rise, delays as consumers celebrate

The AG said consumers may not be aware of the conflict of interest between shareholders of a credit reporting agency and the lending institutions themselves.

SAYED-KHAIYUM: “For example, the shareholders of Data Bureau include BSP Life (Fiji) Limited, Credit Corporation (Fiji) Limited, Carlisle Limited (former shareholder of Dominion Insurance Limited) and Tower Insurance (Fiji) Limited. In a market such as Fiji…it can dictate the terms under which a person may take out a loan,”

The Fair Reporting of Credit Act 2016 (the Act) was enacted by Parliament last month.

READ: No more Data Bureau, consumer credit history to reset

The AG said the Government wanted to develop a regulated credit reporting environment in Fiji.

SAYED-KHAIYUM: “Many mature markets have regulated credit reporting environments…(The Act) will ensure that the information is accurate and reliable.”

The AG said the Act gives Fijians “the opportunity to start over with a clean slate,”.

SAYED-KHAIYUM: “This is necessary as the current unregulated regime has created a pool of flawed data and unfair reporting systems which have deprived everyday Fijians from accessing credit,”

Sayed-Khaiyum said his Government had the responsibility to ensure the accuracy of credit information.

SAYED-KHAIYUM: “We have received many complaints from members of the community regarding the information held by Data Bureau…Most ordinary Fijians do no have the financial means to…seek recourse against an entity that is well-resourced and owned by large companies.”

Minister Sayed-Khaiyum said the regulation of credit reporting in Fiji would provide recourse and redress for all stakeholders and a level-playing field for new entrants in the credit reporting market.

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