By MERESEINI MARAU - TOTOKA
The Fijian Government will set up a new credit bureau by next year to replace a privately owned data bureau which the government closed down in 2016.
This was a key recommendation of a visiting team from the International Monetary Fund and details of their recommendations were released as a press conference in Suva today by IMF team leader Pablo Lopez Murphy.
Lopez and his three member team were in the country for two weeks since the end of November to carry out their annual country surveillance commonly known as Article IV in the IMF vocabs.
From their preliminary findings, Lopez and his team believed there was significant room to improve Fiji's economy.
He said that one way of achieving this is to establish a credit bureau, which they believe was a key piece in the financial infrastructure.
"Remember there was a data bureau that was shut down in 2016, we think it's important to open a new one."
"This institution plays an important role and government is working on that," he said.
"Hopefully in 2018, there is concrete news on that one."
"This is a key measure in improving business environment."
Lopez said the re-introduction of the credit bureau would allow the lenders to know who has a good credit record and who hasn’t.
"That allows to cover better risk management, the process of financial inter mediation will be less risky."
"That would facilitate the growth, which makes the lending business less risky."
The IMF team were in Nadi and Suva where they met private sector and government representatives.
Also part of the team was Fiji’s representative to the IMF- Lanieta Rauqeuqe.
While the new credit bureau will be set up and owned by the government, the defunct Data Bureau Limited began operations in 2001, and was an initiative of a group of financial institutions and insurance companies. It was forced by the Fiji Government to close down after it introduced and passed legislation in parliament.
That Data Bureau was the leading provider of credit historical information on individual and businesses in the Pacific region.
It was a Fiji company established by a number of leading financial institutions and established Credit Bureau operations in Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu and hopefully in Samoa before the end of 2011.
Those Credit Bureaus were not linked in anyway, they were stand alone.
According to that company, their principal business was the operation of a Credit Bureau database where members were able to access the credit history and identify details of their customers. The Credit Bureau also assisted their members with debt collection when defaulting debtors were listed on the Credit Bureau.
That information was available to their members through a sophisticated but user friendly software system accessed through the internet.
The Data Bureau supplied it’s members with information that allowed them to make informed credit and business decisions.