National Credit Amendment Bill (Debt Relief Committee Bill): preparation for public comment

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Trade and Industry

14 November 2017
Chairperson: Ms J Fubbs (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Documents handed out: National Credit Amendment Bill (to Members only)

A Parliamentary legal adviser took the Committee through the minor terminological changes to a draft of the National Credit Amendment Bill. The proposed Bill provided debt interventions for South Africans who might not qualify to undergo debt review or sequestration processes. The Bill also aimed to limit the widespread abuse of consumers by unscrupulous lenders, and allowed for criminal prosecution of persons who contravened the Act. 

After formal consideration, the legislative proposal was adopted. The DA indicated that it wished to abstain. The Chairperson announced that the draft National Credit Amendment Bill would be published in the Government Gazette for public comment by no later than 28 November 2017. The closing date for public comments would be Monday, 15 January 2018.

Meeting report

Committee matters

Oversight report correction

The Chairperson referred to problems that had arisen two weeks previously. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) had had to have two reports in the House. An oversight report had been listed on the order paper, but it was not a complete report. The Committee had gone on a major oversight visit, but on the order paper only three hours had been listed for the six days. There was not even an introduction. The Committee had taken action an hour before, for it to be taken off the order paper. It was due to come back in the current week. What had happened was a mistake on the printer’s side. It had since been since printed correctly.

Mr Andre Hermans, Committee Secretary, said that it had been printed on 13 March, and reprinted on 15 March.

The Chairperson said that the Table had acknowledged a printing error, and that the report would come back to the House to be adopted.

After a number of apologies had been recorded, the Chairperson commented that everyone seemed to be on party business. Chief Whips would be written to. When a Bill was dealt with, parties had to be represented. She welcomed delegates from the DTI, the Consumer Tribunal, and the National Credit Regulator (NCR). Decisions could be taken at only 10h00, when Mr S Radebe (ANC) and Mr D Macpherson (DA) would be present.

Consideration of minutes
The Chairperson advised that minutes should be considered, although they could not yet be adopted. They could be adopted on the following day. The Committee considered the minutes of 12 October, 31 October, 1 November, 7 November and 8 November.

National Credit Amendment Bill (Committee Bill)

The Chairperson said that the meeting of the previous Friday had been a highly important meeting, and had been considered as such by the public who attended. One tended to forget that it was a “People’s Parliament.” Visitors wanted their passes laminated by security officials. People still respected Parliament, and believed that it could address grievances and challenges. A cleaned up version of the draft Bill was to be considered. The Bill was to get a final reading before being cleaned up for publication.

Adv Charmaine van der Merwe, Parliamentary Legal Adviser, announced that there had been corrections and additions in one or two things areas, and options decided on. The changes were indicated in green.

On page 17, under (5) (d) and (e): “any matter that in the view of the Tribunal will aid the debt intervention applicant to improve his or her financial position…”, was changed to manage.

On page 17, under (7), time periods were ascribed to the limitation on the debt intervention applicant’s right to apply for credit, which was not to be exceeded. The limitation was to be discretional, as well as the time period ascribed to limitation.

On page 20, subsection (6)(c)(ii), there was concern about the term to amend the order (by the Tribunal), hence varying was used.

On page 21, subsection (3), paragraph (b) required proof of the debt intervention applicant’s income and expenses. There was concern about the fact that when there was a debt intervention, the applicant could not apply for further credit. In the event of an applicant acquiring money that enabled him/her to get out of a debt intervention, there had to be proof that credit providers were paid in full. If a letter from a credit provider was asked for, it could take six months, so paragraph (b) had been inserted, which required “proof of the debt intervention applicant’s income and expenses”. The letter was the best way for the Tribunal to know that the credit provider knew and had been paid, and a receipt could be obtained from the post office.

Mr Macpherson asked why a credit provider would refuse to provide a letter that a debt had been paid.

Adv Van der Merwe replied that it was not a matter of refusal, but rather of failure. Where banks were involved, it would be fine -- a person could obtain the letter on the same day -- but it could involve a small retailer that did not have a printer.

The Chairperson agreed that it was not about refusal, but one did not always get an extra thing asked for.

Adv Van der Merwe referred to page 34. The Committee had commented on the terms vary and change. The Principal Act used the term vary. Change had been inserted. On page 40, vary had been altered to change.

Ms C Theko (ANC) asked on what page vary and change appeared.

The Chairperson replied that it was on page 40, under (3). The change was at the end of the line.

The Chairperson said that the Committee had requested permission from the House to introduce a legislative proposal. On 6 December 2016, a report had been submitted to the House to produce a draft. On 21 March 2017, the House had granted permission to proceed with the legislative proposal. The Committee would state that the legislation had been developed, and that it wished to publish the draft in the Government Gazette not later than 28 November for public comment. She asked for adoption of a motion to proceed.

A motion to support a report being sent to the House was adopted.

The Chairperson asked if there were any objections.

Mr Macpherson said that the DA would abstain.

The Chairperson said that the current draft would be cleaned up by the legal office to go for publication. It would be published on Announcements, Tablings and Committees (ATC).

She told Mr Macpherson that Mr A Williams (ANC), who had chaired the sub-committee, was sick. A press meeting had to be held, and she suggested this should be the following day. When it went into the Government gazette, people could come in and speak. Late submissions would be considered.

She thanked the MPs for how they had applied themselves. She thanked Mr Radebe, the Portfolio Committee House Whip, for his presence. She also thanked the staff who had worked with Adv Van der Merwe. She thanked all stakeholders -- the DTI, the National Credit Regulator (NCR), the National Treasury (NT) and the Tribunal.

Adoption of minutes

Ms C Theko (ANC) asked if the minutes could be adopted.

The Chairperson told Mr Macpherson that the minutes had been gone through before he arrived, but had not yet been adopted. The minutes of 12 October could not be adopted yet, and would be brought back. The minutes of 31 October, 1 November, 7 November and 8 November were adopted without amendment.

She asked the Secretary to comment on the Committee programme.

Mr Hermans announced that there would be a meeting from 8h30 to 10h30 on the following day, and a joint meeting with the Finance Standing Committee after that.

The Chairperson asked if Members had received an e-copy of the financial transformation report. It was a very long report. It was the first time that a transfer-typed finance report would go to the House. The first report would be available on ATC. Those who had participated for the preceding 18 months knew what was happening.

Ms Katherine Gibson, Chief Director: Financial Sector Conduct, National Treasury, said that a revised version of the financial sector code had been finalised at the end of 2016. For implementation, it had to be gazetted. Financial institutions had to be aligned with the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) Act.

The Chairperson noted that it had caused a delay. She thanked the President’s Parliamentary Advisory Officer for being present, and Mr Macpherson for coming all the way from KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), and for staying on the preceding Friday.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.

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