Fianna Fáil Senator Thomas Byrne has urged the Minister for Finance to accept a Fianna Fáil Bill to regulate debt management advisors. Michael Noonan has confirmed to Fianna Fáil’s Finance Spokesperson that the Government will regulate companies offering debt management and debt advice services.
Senator Byrne said: “This is extremely welcome news in light of very serious issues that have arisen with some debt management firms. Consumers must be protected and full regulation of this large and growing sector is very important. I wrote and brought the Regulation of Debt Management Advisors Bill before the Seanad last summer. I am urging the Government to now look again at the provisions of this legislation and bring it before the Oireachtas with amendments as necessary.”
In a written reply to a Parliamentary Question from Fianna Fáil Finance Spokesperson Michael McGrath, Minister Michael Noonan said: On the basis of advice received from the Central Bank and my officials I have agreed that all debt management and debt advice services of firms should be subject to regulation. I have has asked my officials to prepare the necessary legislation which, subject to Government approval, will be brought forward as a Committee Stage amendment to the Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Bill 2011.’
Senator Byrne said: “The area of debt management advice and household budgeting services is entirely unregulated at present and is a growing cause of concern. It is a sector that has mushroomed in recent years as personal debt levels increased substantially. Many distressed borrowers have signed up to seemingly attractive offerings of some providers in this area and found themselves in further financial trouble and in a less secure situation.
“This issue really captured people’s attention following the collapse of Home Payments Limited last summer. In recent weeks, it is known that the Central Bank has intervened in at least two other cases recently, advising the customers of one firm to suspend any further payments to them.
“Fianna Fáil is ready to engage constructively on this issue to ensure that the necessary regulation is introduced as quickly as possible and in that regard I am urging the Government to accept the provisions of the Fianna Fáil Bill.”