Amendments to the National Credit Act were in the pipeline to streamline the process of debt review and counselling and to address issues raised in a number of court judgments, Parliament’s trade and industry committee heard last week.
The amendments flow from a holistic review of consumer credit policy undertaken by the University of Pretoria and will be submitted to Parliament during the 2013 -14 financial year.
In the meantime, Inkatha Freedom Party MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini introduced a private member’s bill which proposes two amendments he believes will help many indebted people who are struggling to make ends meet.
One of the amendments would exclude business-to-business and incidental credit agreements from the act’s provisions, and the other would empower magistrates to suspend the accrual of interest for up to five years to prevent consumers falling into a debt trap.
Mr Oriani-Ambrosini’s bill was the first private member’s bill to be dealt with under Parliament’s new rules.
This was in compliance with a Constitutional Court ruling last year that the parliamentary requirement that members obtain permission from the National Assembly before they introduce a bill was unconstitutional.
Department of Trade and Industry deputy director-general Zodwa Ntuli argued against the adoption of the bill, saying it would be preferable to address all proposed amendments at once rather than in a piecemeal fashion which caused uncertainty.
The Banking Association of South Africa, the Credit Bureau Association and attorney Brett Bentley also opposed the proposed amendments on the grounds that they would complicate matters.