Consumer Trust Concerned About Financial Charter

THE Namibia Consumer Trust said yesterday that it was concerned about the behaviour of financial institutions.

“The Namibia Financial Sector Charter (NFSC) continue to condone practices applied by the financial sector that distort and prevent informed consumer choices by not calling each other to order. Most players in the financial sector are signatories to the charter including banks and the insurance industry,” said Michael Gaweseb, executive director of the Namibia Consumer Trust in a statement.

The charter concluded that Namibian consumers lack financial literacy and by so doing blaming the charter for widespread disorder in the sector. This was aimed at diverting attention from their deliberately fundamentally faulty ‘principles’ that erode consumer rights.

Gaweseb said the Trust became aware of the financial industry’s attempt to engage in self regulation through the charter in 2009 after parliament launched an enquiry into their conduct in 2006.

The charter commenced in 2009 and will end in 2019. By March this year, the Namibia financial Sector Charter Council was supposed to have conducted a review of progress on implementation of the charter and inform stakeholders accordingly.

Amongst the commitments made by the signatories to the charter are that by the end of 2014 at least 25% of executive managers are to be from the previously disaantaged group of whom one third must be women. Additionally, members of their board of directors are supposed to be at least 40% from the previously disaantaged by 2014 as per their charter. At the same time, 11% of the 40% board members are supposed to be women.

“Judging by the lack of progress in the board room not only for consumers, but also for women, the financial sector is party to so many hostile challenges women face all over Namibia. Consumers must also be represented on boards in the financial industry as such institutions cannot survive without consumer goodwill. Additionally, the 0,2% of after tax profit which is supposed to be spent on consumer education should be done on an independent non-branded basis rather than the current extension of brand aertising,” Gaweseb said.

Source : The Namibian