Government is close to introducing legislation to offer protection to buyers who use hire purchase agreements and especially those who have paid significant amounts towards their purchases but still have their purchases repossessed.
Attorney General Anil Nandlall told Stabroek News that legislative drafters have been instructed to work swiftly to complete the bill, which would be the first of its kind for Guyana.
“I am pleased to say that it is in its final stage… and will soon be tabled in the National Assembly by the government.
It is long overdue and it is directed to protect thousands of vulnerable Guyanese who purchase goods, motor vehicles and equipment on a hire purchase basis,” Nandlall explained.
“In Guyana, we have no legislation governing hire purchase transactions… these legislative interventions are all intended and designed to bring more balance to the relationship …and to offer a network of protection to both parties but more particularly the vulnerable hirer,” he added.
Two weeks ago, during the report of the Select Committee on the Deeds Registry (Amendment) Bill, Nandlall told the House that hire purchase legislation would be tabled soon by government.
He explained that the legislation was important, since a significant percentage of the populace uses such agreements to purchase automobiles, household appliances and furniture and can only claim ownership of their goods after they have paid the total value.
“If at any point in time a hirer defaults in the payment of an installment the owner is entitled to repossess the hired goods, forfeit all payments made and is free to sell to a third party.
If the chattel is destroyed or damaged the hirer remains liable to pay the outstanding installments under the agreement,” Nandlall explained.
Further, he made reference to hire purchase agreements between auto dealers and consumers and he pointed out that although registration and licences of insurance are all issued in the name of the buyer, the legal title remains with the auto dealer.
“In many instances, you find that a hirer under such agreement may have paid as much as 90% of the agreed price but if for whatever reason he defaults on a single installment or the vehicle is damaged beyond repair or [in] an accident and he loses everything, the [owner] can repossess the vehicle and [the hirer] has lost everything and still has to pay the balance under the agreement,” Nandlall asserted.
Gold miners have long complained of losing millions, saying that after paying more than fifty percent of the value of their items they are repossessed without regard for the sometimes unavoidable hardships the industry faces. President Donald Ramotar, at the January 6th meeting of the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Associa-tion, heard complaints by miners who bemoaned the hire purchase system, which they said sees repossession of their equipment when they do not make payments.
They pleaded for immediate interventions to bring some relief, especially for the small and medium-scale miners.
Ramotar noted that their plight highlighted the need for hire purchase legislation in Guyana and assured that his government would be taking steps in this regard.
Nandlall informed that he too believes that the legislation should be swiftly implemented as it has been in the making for too long.
He pointed out that Caribbean countries have hire purchase laws protecting their citizens and it is time for Guyana to follow suit.
“The time has come for us to do the same in Guyana and this is the rationale for the introduction of a Hire Purchase Act… It has been a work in progress for over a decade. However, for one reason or the other it was never accomplished and tabled in the National Assembly,” he said.