Reply to Parliamentary Question on centralised consumer credit regulatory framework
QUESTION NO 1802
NOTICE PAPER 727 OF 2021
FOR WRITTEN ANSWER
Date: For Parliament Sitting on 5 October 2021
Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament Mr Desmond Choo, MP, Tampines GRC Question: To ask the Prime Minister whether MAS will consider centralising all financial institutions, moneylenders and credit-providing companies under a single regulatory framework to level up the robustness of the financial system and protection to consumers. Answer by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister and Minister in charge of MAS:
1. Our government agencies work together to oversee the provision of consumer credit in Singapore. About 95% of credit granted to Singapore households by commercial entities is by financial institutions (FIs) regulated by MAS. The remaining 5% includes credit granted by licensed moneylenders regulated by the Ministry of Law; hire-purchase agreements regulated by the Ministry of Trade and Industry; and credit co-operatives overseen by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.
2. We have over time streamlined the consumer safeguards implemented by these government agencies, so they are largely consistent. They are guided by the shared objectives of encouraging financial prudence amongst consumers, and enabling them to make informed choices on credit. For example, a single set of rules on loan tenures and loan-to-value ratios applies for motor vehicle loans, regardless of whether these are granted by FIs, hire-purchase companies or licensed moneylenders. For housing loans, which are mostly provided by FIs, MAS’ rules require all FIs to take into account borrowers’ total outstanding debt obligations, including housing loans from the HDB, motor vehicle loans under hire-purchase arrangements, and loans extended by licensed moneylenders. Likewise, for unsecured loans, caps are applied to the maximum amount of unsecured borrowings that an individual can obtain from an FI, a licensed moneylender or a credit co-operative. All lenders are also subject to fair dealing requirements such as disclosing key terms and conditions of the credit facility, including interest and late repayment charges.
3. Where there are some differences in specific requirements, these are intended to address the unique consumer protection needs of borrowers served by each channel of credit. For instance, licensed moneylenders, which typically provide unsecured credit to borrowers with weaker financial standing, are subject to additional safeguards of interest rate and fee caps. FIs regulated by MAS are not subject to these caps but may only provide unsecured credit to individuals with a minimum annual income of $20,000.
4. Our government agencies will together continue to monitor developments in consumer credit, and ensure consistency and coherence in our overall regulatory framework.