Cracking Down: Fiji Fights Unlicensed Credit Providers

The Trade, Co-operatives, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and Communications Ministry, in collaboration with the Consumer Council of Fiji, is taking decisive action to address the rising concerns regarding unlicensed credit providers in Fiji. This initiative is being led by Deputy Prime Minister and Trade, Co-operatives, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and Communications Minister, Manoa Kamikamica.

Over the past four years, the Council has recorded 329 complaints against unlicensed credit providers, amounting to $452,614.82 in monetary value. 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 overpayments, imposing predatory loan conditions, and withholding loan documents from consumers. These practices have significantly harmed consumers, burdening them with unnecessary debt and financial stress.

Mr. Kamikamica emphasized the Government’s commitment to addressing these issues. “We cannot allow unlicensed credit providers to continue exploiting our citizens. It is imperative that we work towards amending the Reserve Bank of Fiji Act 1983 to include regulatory oversight for these entities. Currently, credit providers can choose not to register as a financial institution, but continue to operate, exempting them from oversight by the RBF. Amending the relevant Act will ensure a fair, transparent, and accountable financial system that protects all Fijians.”

He further stated, “The Government is dedicated to promoting consumer protection, improving governance and compliance among credit providers, and fostering fair competition in the credit market. By addressing these regulatory gaps, we can enhance the overall credibility and stability of Fiji’s financial sector.”

Seema Shandil, Chief Executive Officer of the Council, has welcomed the commitment from the Deputy Prime Minister. “The complaints we have received against unlicensed credit providers are alarming and unacceptable. These practices are not only unethical but also negatively impact the finance sector as a whole. We need robust regulatory frameworks to protect consumers and ensure that all credit providers operate transparently and fairly – and the commitment by the Minister has brought us a step closer to this,” said Ms. Shandil.

She added that the Council has faced significant challenges in seeking redress for consumers due to the lack of regulatory oversight. “With the support of the Ministry and the Government, we are hopeful that the necessary amendments will be made to safeguard consumer rights and promote a healthier financial environment in Fiji.”

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

“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, ultimately benefiting consumers and the economy,” said Hon Kamikamica.

The Consumer Council of Fiji and the Trade, Co-operatives, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and Communications Ministry are committed to working together to address this critical issue and protect the financial well-being of all Fijians.

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