Consumers in need of debt counselling

NOW that the dust of the festive season has settled and life is returning to relative normality, the spotlight shifts back to one of the key players on the credit management scene - the consumer.

NOW that the dust of the festive season has settled and life is returning to relative normality, the spotlight shifts back to one of the key players on the credit management scene - the consumer.

This shift is made even more urgent by the chilling statistics that more than 9 million South Africans are over-indebted.

This scary picture underscores the severity of the global financial crunch and that our country has not been spared.

Unfortunately the Reserve Bank's decision to leave the repo rate unchanged does not help the situation.

People are losing hard-earned belongings daily and measures have to be taken to assist these consumers without nurturing a culture of nonpayment.

This brings me to one of the steps aimed at mitigating this scourge - debt counselling or review. As a process that allows for debt repayments to be restructured, successes have been registered while various challenges remain.

Firstly, the tentative relationship that exists between debt counsellors and creditors needs to be strengthened as cooperation between these stakeholders is paramount to the success of the debt review process.

Where required the National Credit Regulator has to step in to enforce compliance as the consequences of a foiled debt review process are too dire to contemplate.

Secondly, defaulting consumers need to be aware that debt review cannot be abused to avoid meeting one's obligations. Defaulting provides reasons for creditors to terminate the process and institute legal proceedings.

Mogomotsi Mogodiri

Johannesburg

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