Hire-purchase bill transformational

Minister Walrond

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Hon Oneidge Walrond says the Hire- Purchase Bill would promote competition and commerce while protecting the interests of both the seller and consumer.

The Minister made this statement during an interview on television programme “Feedback” earlier this evening.

The bill would be “transformational” she said, as it provides protection for persons who are buying items on credit in the form of hire purchase.

During the live call-in programme, Minister Walrond explained that the bill seeks to address several issues consumers face when purchasing items on credit. The new legislation would also eliminate the right of sellers to seize items if persons have paid more than half of the total value. It also makes it illegal for businesses to seize items unannounced.

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Hon Oneidge Walrond

“If more than 50 per cent of the item has been paid, then the seller cannot repossess unless they go before the court. A judge or magistrate would have to determine if the business has the right to do so,” Minister Walrond said.

Further, she explained, the Competition and Consumers’ Affairs Commission would be responsible for assisting persons in taking action against defaulting businesses.

“A form is going to be provided and … those people who are not able to hire a lawyer wouldn’t need to. The form will be filled out and they will be directed on how to take it to the Magistrates’ courts,” she said, explaining that since it’s a new bill, the legal process would have to be defined more.

The bill seeks to promote transparency when conducting business and would make concealing the actual price of an item an offence. This will encourage persons to make more informed purchases.

It is important to note that the Hire-Purchase Bill is two-fold as it seeks to protect the interest of the seller as well. The bill makes it an offence to remove an item from the premises of the address given to the business without notice. It also allows sellers the right to inspect goods once sold to ensure it is being kept in a proper condition. The “Feedback” programme also received several calls from consumers voicing their concerns about the exorbitant interest rates being charged by business places. The Minister said while the Government does not engage in price manipulation, if the issue becomes burdensome on consumers, it will be examined.

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