Oshikoto Regional Council Chairperson Advocates for Consumer Rights Awareness

Windhoek – Samuel Shivute, the chairperson of the Oshikoto regional council, is urging people to become more knowledgeable about their rights, especially in the context of managing debt and avoiding financial distress. During the Oshikoto regional consumer credit bill consultations held in Omuthiya on Thursday, Shivute emphasized the challenges faced by many who are burdened with expensive loans and insurance due to insufficient information about how these financial instruments operate.

According to Namibian Press Agency (NAMPA), a significant issue in Namibia is the lack of awareness among consumers about where to turn when their rights are infringed upon, leaving many feeling helpless. He stressed the importance of understanding consumer rights, highlighting the critical role consumers play in the business ecosystem. The consumer credit bill, as outlined by Shivute, is designed to educate people about making informed financial decisions with the right information at the right time.

Joanette Eises, a corporate communications practitioner at the Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (NAMFISA), further explained the bill’s objectives. She stated that the bill seeks to foster fair, transparent, and responsible conduct in the consumer credit market. It aims to protect credit consumers by ensuring they are treated fairly and provided with complete and transparent information.

Eises elaborated that the bill encompasses all types of credit, including loans for education, small business development, or low-income housing. Key features of the bill include transparency, full disclosure of information, improved reporting of consumer credit information, and regulation and supervision of services provided by credit providers, credit bureaus, and debt collectors. The bill is also geared towards promoting high standards of business conduct and reducing financial crimes.

Additionally, Eises highlighted the rights the proposed bill would grant to consumers, such as the right to understand why credit is refused, to receive information in plain language, and to have confidential treatment of their information. Other rights include the opportunity to read and understand credit agreement terms, the right to refuse signing incomplete documents, and the prohibition against retention of personal documents and bank credentials.

NAMFISA is spearheading this initiative in collaboration with representatives from various entities, including the Ministry of Finance and Public Enterprises, the Bank of Namibia, the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade, and the Financial Literacy Initiative, to address legislative challenges through the Consumer Credit Bill.