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Senate passes credit reporting bill

Published:Saturday | April 17, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

THE SENATE yesterday passed the credit reporting bill setting the stage for the establishment of a credit bureau in Jamaica.

The bill, which sets out strict guidelines as to how the information is to be treated, proposes tough penalties for the misuse of information or the disclosure of false information.

Attorney General Dorothy Lightbourne, who piloted the bill, hailed it as a landmark legislation.

"Given the problems of poor credit decisions and the high levels of non-performing loans which plague the financial sector during the time of the financial sector crisis, it is believed that a system that will provide better credit information will be beneficial to financial institutions in their loan decision-making process," Lightbourne argued.

The bill allows for the sharing of information between financial institutions and other specified bodies and the licensing of credit bureau. Lightbourne said that once enacted, the credit reporting bill would benefit consumers seeking to access loans.

It was a view shared by Opposition Senator Mark Golding who said that it would allow new and existing businesses to access credit.

The setting up of credit bureau involves the collection and storage of credit information on the users of credit.

Better position to purchase

Golding said consumers who were not in a position to hire consumer durables would be in a better position to purchase these goods.

New government senator Kamina Johnson has urged the need for a public education campaign to inform Jamaicans of the effect the legislation would have on their lives.

In her first address to the Senate, Johnson said it was important that the Consumer Affairs Commission develop a campaign to "ensure that consumers at all levels of society understand how the legislation may affect them, its benefits, the responsibilities it places on them and not least of all, their rights," Johnson said.