Time to sign Debt Relief Amendment Bill into law – COSATU

Federation says workers have for too long battled to cope with the ever-rising levels of debt

COSATU Urges President Ramaphosa to Urgently Sign the National Credit (Debt Relief) Amendment Bill into law 

18 March 2019

COSATU applauds the National Council of Provinces for passing the progressive National Credit Amendment (NCA) Bill.  The Federation is calling on the President to move with speed and sign the NCA Bill into law.  Workers have for too long battled to cope with the ever rising levels of debt.

The NCA Bill seeks to provide urgent debt relief for thousands of the most highly indebted and impoverished workers and families.   The NCA Bill provides for:

- Allow the unemployed, workers earning less than R7 500 per month and women and child headed households and homes with a person with a disability and debt under R50 000 to apply for varying forms of debt relief:

- Debt relief could come in the form of a 1 or 2 year interest free payment suspension;

- Adjustment of interest rates; or

- Cancellation of a reckless and illegal loan.

The NCA Bill provides for:

Protection for the most important assets of workers from repossession e.g. bedding, school supplies, kitchen appliances.

The Minister for Trade and Industry to make a special intervention in the cases of economic sectors or regions which have experienced an economic or natural crisis.

Harsh penalties for reckless and abusive lenders and loan sharks, including fines and imprisonment.

In addition to the NCA Bill’s pro-worker provisions.  Government needs to undertake further interventions to:

- Protect workers’ home and vehicle loans as well as loans of small and emerging farmers;

- Increase the coverage of household goods from repossession;

- Include student loans as qualifying for debt relief;

- Reduce excessive bank lending rates which hurt the poor;

- Tackle the wage gap, retrenchments and outsourcing that hurts banking sector workers;

- Deal with the marginalisation of townships, villages, rural and informal areas by the banking sector;

- Crack down and close loan sharks;

- End mainstream banks owning load sharks and exploiting the poor;

- Ensure transformation and accessibility in the banking sector for the poor;

- Capacitate the post bank as a choice for the poor; and

- Roll out consumer and banking sector education.

Issued by Matthew Parks, Parliamentary Coordinator, COSATU, 18 March 2019