The Caribbean Credit Bureau Limited (CCBL) has once again urged Government to relook its Fair Credit Reporting Act, warning that it could result in not only Barbadians’ financial data being leaked outside the region but job losses as well.
It insisted that the legislation – which has created a regulatory environment to promote the development of a fair credit reporting system; regulation of the use of such data; and the secure keeping of the private data of persons collected by a credit bureau – was not necessary and has the potential to do more harm than good.
“There is no need to regulate the business of credit bureaus as we currently have a system in place that has proven to work for players in this sector and by extension our stakeholders,” the CCBL said in a press release on Monday.
“Therefore, should Government refuse to reconsider this Act’s passage, we run the risk of seeing our unemployment numbers rise if local credit bureaus are unable to satisfy the requirements in the Act, the potential loss of foreign exchange, people’s data being exported and utilised by organisations and persons unknown to us who by their very actions can undermine our already broken financial system,” the CCBL further added.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act was passed in December 2021 and proclaimed last month.
“Although some would argue that credit bureaus like CCBL should be mature and endorse the legislation, we remain fearful that if Government enforces the regulations associated with this Act, there is the potential risks of our people’s sensitive financial data being exported to and controlled by entities outside of the region, which local regulators will be unable to properly regulate,” the CCBL said.
“For this and other reasons, CCBL restates its position to Government that instead of seeking to regulate the sector under this Act, it should seriously consider building on the work of established local institutions and legislation already in existence to address potential threats to national sovereignty and sensitive data on the public.
“To this end, therefore, Government is being asked to revisit this Act with the view of making specific amendments to our Data Protection Act, 2019 which can be used to utilise the existing regulatory mechanisms of the Financial Institutions Act in order to protect the interests of our citizens against potential threats from outside our region,” it added.
The CCBL also questioned whether the new legislation was enacted because of pressure placed on Barbados by international financial institutions.
It maintained that Government was merely creating a regulatory environment for companies currently operating as credit bureaux when there was no need to do so.
“Accordingly, to the extent that Government or the Central Bank has been unable to produce any proof that highlights any evidence of malfeasance on the part of any locally owned and controlled credit bureau regarding the way they function and operate to justify this move, CCBL is questioning the real motive and rationale behind this Act’s rushed passage.
“Is it that Government has made commitments to international financial institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund and spontaneously passed this Act to further coordinate their efforts with large data harvesting operators and national security agencies outside of Barbados to access funding?” the credit bureau asked. (RB/PR)