In the last fortnight I’ve gone around the country as Minister of Consumer Affairs to talk to people about a significant piece of consumer law reform I’m leading: tougher loan shark laws.
The Government has a law – a draft Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Amendment Bill – that seeks to deal with unscrupulous lenders who are operating in some of our poorest communities and leaving families trapped in a spiral of debt.
Our package will be the biggest reform in this area in a decade.
Key changes we want to make include:
• Making it illegal to lend money to someone whose loan repayments would be likely to result in substantial hardship;
• Requiring more timely and complete disclosure of loan terms, and extending the ‘cooling off’ period for borrowers to cancel their loan;
• Obligating lenders to properly consider applications by borrowers for hardship relief, and provide reasons for their decisions;
• Better controls against misleading, deceptive or confusing advertising;
• Introducing a new Code of Responsible Lending – and allowing for lenders to be banned from the industry for non-compliance;
• Ensuring that borrowers won’t have to pay the cost of interest or fees if their lender is not a registered financial service provider.
Find out more and make a submission before 25 May at: http://www.consumeraffairs.govt.nz/legislation-policy/policy-development/credit-review
Building a more competitive economy
To run a successful business, farm, school, or household, you need a good plan and you need to budget responsibly – especially when times are tough.
The Government is no different.
In the past three years we have delivered on our plan to put the economy on a sound footing based on more savings, exports, and productive investment, and on less debt, housing speculation, and unsustainable government spending.
At the same time we have protected the most vulnerable and taken the sharpest edges off the recession for families and businesses.
National’s responsible management means the Government’s books are set to be back in surplus in 2014/15, the first time since the global financial crisis and worldwide recession.
Returning to surplus means we can start reducing debt. That is no small achievement. It has taken disciplined fiscal policy and a willingness to make trade-offs. We have a plan to rebuild and strengthen the country. We have stuck to that plan and it is working.
Budget 2012 later this month will reflect our four priorities in this term of government:
- Responsibly managing the Government’s finances.
- Building a more productive and competitive economy.
- Delivering better public services.
- Rebuilding Christchurch.
We’ll announce a range of initiatives that show we are getting things done while staying on course to return to surplus.
We’ll continue to spend in priority areas. This Budget will protect and grow areas of public spending that are important in delivering real results to New Zealanders. We will continue to invest more in health and education.
We’ll invest more in science and innovation, as we promised at the election, to help build the research and innovation base of the economy.
We’ll keep student loans interest free but we are determined to reduce the cost of the loan scheme to taxpayers. Savings will be reinvested in improving teaching and research within our universities and other tertiary institutions.
We’ll keep up entitlements to welfare and superannuation, and continue with large programmes such as Working For Families.
National will invest money up front to support New Zealanders out of welfare. We will also remain strong on law and order and demand better, more innovative, public services.
Budget 2012 will be about building a more competitive economy that supports more jobs, higher incomes, and ensures New Zealand earns its way in the world.