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Ground-Breaking Bill To Be Debated In Parliament

Ground-Breaking Bill To Be Debated In Parliament
Government Member of Parliament Ashneel Sudhakar outside Parliament on September 12, 2017. Photo: Ronald Kumar.
September 13
12:16 2017

A ground-breaking Bill has been tabled in Parliament. When passed, it will open up opportunities for people to use their personal properties such as livestock as collateral to secure finance.

The Personal Property Securities Bill will be debated this Friday.

Chair of the Justice, Law and Human Rights Committee Ashneel Sudhakar presented the Bill in Parliament yesterday.

The Personal Property Securities Bill is the Fijian Government’s initiative to reform laws to facilitate the financing of movable or personal property in order to provide access to credit for micro, small and medium enterprises and individuals.

Currently, there is no provision in law which allows people to mortgage their personal properties such as livestock.

Many Fijians have had to seek loans from money lenders and pay more than 20 per cent in interest.

If passed, this will assist farmers and people in rural areas. Financial institutions in Fiji have already given their support for this Bill.

“A personal property securities law allows people and entities to pledge their personal property to secure finance and for lenders to secure their interests in personal property.

“It also enables finance providers and other interested parties to determine without delay whether a proposed debtor has previously pledged particular property to secure a previous loan,” Mr Sudhakar told Parliament.

The aim of the Bill is to increase economic activity in the previously untapped market of financing where personal property such as livestock, crops, farm machinery, business equipment, personal effects (such as electronics, computers, furniture, jewellery, watches, etc.), attachments to buildings, and so on can be mortgaged to willing credit providers to raise funds to expand business or for personal endeavours.

“This honourable Parliament tasked the Standing Committee on Justice, Law & Human Rights to scrutinise the said Bill in its July sitting and to return a report in this sitting of the House. The Committee straightaway commenced its work and read the Bill, called for public submissions, invited and consulted experts and relevant stakeholders and held a public hearing in Lautoka to obtain the widest possible views on it,” Mr Sudhakar said.

THE IMPORTANT AREAS WHICH THE BILL  ADDRESSES:

a)      Regulate the money lending regime in Fiji, which are secured by personal property;

b)      Modernises Fiji’s system of liens and security interests on property that is not land;

c)      Provides for the filing of notices for priority lending and provides clear rules surrounding listing and enforcement;

d)     Reflects and is consistent with current law in other jurisdictions thus is in line with international best practices;

e)      Establishes a central, searchable registration system (Personal Property Securities Registry) which allow quick searches of liens and security interests on property;

f)       provides a clear system for registration, perfection, disposal and prioritisation of liens and security interests;

g)      Expands on what can be used as collateral from just fixed assets of land and building to what is termed as movable assets;

h)      Ensures greater confidence in lenders in extending credit; and

i)        Enables the taking advantage of new financing procedures and products which in turn improve the lives of ordinary Fijians without administration restrictions to accessing credit.

Edited by Mohammed Ali

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