Namfisa gears up to tackle consumer credit loopholes

Martin Endjala

The Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (Namfisa), has embarked on a public consultation across all regions to engage various stakeholders to get inputs on the Consumer Credit Bill to help ensure that the bill speaks to the needs of the people.

During a recent media engagement in Windhoek, Namfisa Deputy Chief Executive Officer Market Conduct and Operations, Johannes Smit said consumer protection is paramount in deliberations and it underpins the very essence of the Consumer Credit Bill.

“We must remember that this bill when enacted, will be a powerful tool that can either help individuals realise their dreams or push them into financial hardship, the regulations we put in place must provide a robust safety net, ensuring fairness, transparency and accountability,” he said.

The Consumer Credit Bill aims to protect the interests of consumers, promote responsible lending, and provide avenues for recourse in cases of disputes. Engaging in these consultations, Smit said demonstrates Namfisa’s commitment to creating a financial landscape where consumers are protected and empowered.

He acknowledged that in today’s rapidly changing financial environment, the needs and concerns of consumers are constantly evolving, hence, inputs from stakeholders will help Namfisa to remain agile, adapting their regulations to address emerging challenges and opportunities.

Smit urges for a shared commitment to building a financial system that is fair, sustainable and responsive, citing it as paramount in shaping the future of consumer credit and the financial industry.

Additionally, Smit noted that in a world that is increasingly complex and interconnected, consumer credit is a vital component of economic growth and stability.

When managed responsibly he said, it empowers individuals and families to realise their dreams, whether it be owning a home, starting a business, or pursuing education.

However, he stressed that it must be acknowledged that irresponsible or reckless lending practices can lead to devastating consequences for consumers and the broader economy.

Through these consultations, he believes Namibia has a unique opportunity to strike the right balance – one that fosters innovation and competition while maintaining robust safeguards for consumers.

While adamantly asserting that this is an opportunity to craft a legislative framework that promotes financial inclusion and protects all consumers.

“The Consumer Credit Bill will touch our lives and the lives of our loved ones. We therefore have a vested interest to ensure that it will be a piece of legislation that is fair towards all parties involved in consumer credit transactions,” said Smit.

Meanwhile, due to legislative limitations on the regulatory and supervisory framework governing agreements on consumer credit in Namibia’s financial sector, the current legislation is said to lack robust provisions on effective consumer protection against unfair market practices.

As a result, Namfisa is leading a project together with representatives from the Ministry of Finance and Public Enterprises, Bank of Namibia, Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade, Financial Literacy Initiative and the GIZ to address the legislative challenges in the form of the Consumer Credit Bill.

The project has developed and formulated the Consumer Credit Bill Policy Paper that addressed the current regulatory framework’s shortcomings and highlighted the principles to be covered in the envisaged regulatory framework.

The Bill will repeal the old Act, of 1968, the Credit Agreements Act, of 1980, and the Micro Lending Act, of 2018. Amendments to other legislation will be required, such as the Electronic Transactions Act, of 2019, the Namfisa Act, of 2021, and the Bank of Namibia Act, of 2020.

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