PFIP is currently partnering with the Fijian government to undertake a revision of the Fijian Consumer Credit Act (1999) in order to better protect the interests of consumers in the face of an evolving consumer credit industry.
Consumer credit contracts in Fiji take various forms, such as hire purchase agreements, loan and mortgage documents, consumer leases, guarantees and bills of sale, which are normally technical and legally binding documents. Terms and Conditions are often drafted in fine print and purport to give consumers rights and responsibilities. However, in reality, the majority of consumers do not fully comprehend the complex and often contradictory legalities contained in these documents.
The Demand Side Survey for Fiji highlights that while use of formal and informal credit in Fiji is low (32%) in relation to comparable countries, approximately three-quarters of credit is provided through informal sources such as shop credit, money lenders and loans from family and friends.
Deregulation of the financial markets has made the financial sector more competitive with the introduction of new financial products and services. This has brought dramatic change to Fiji’s consumer credit market. The use of credit in retail stores is now far more prevalent, particularly for white goods, furniture and electronic equipment purchases. According to the Consumer Council of Fiji, there has been radical change in attitude to credit, from using debt as a last resort to regarding credit as part of a suite of financial services to be routinely used. As usage of credit becomes wider, the importance of ensuring legislation which protects consumer’s interests’ increases.