The Ombudsperson for Financial Services Bill is being finalised in consultation with all relevant stakeholders. The objective of the Bill is to better protect consumers of banking and financial services. It provides for the establishment of the Office of Ombudsperson for Financial Services to deal with complaints received and recommend appropriate remedial actions. The Bill will cover licensees of the Bank of Mauritius (BoM) and the Financial Services Commission, as well as Credit Unions.
The Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External Communications and National Development Unit and Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, made this announcement yesterday in the National Assembly during his reply to a Parliamentary Question relating to the number of complaints received by the BoM from members of the public against commercial banks.
He indicated that the BoM has received, during the period January 2015 to March 2018, 4 590 complaints from members of the public, the majority of which relate to fees and charges and repayment of loans.
The BoM, Mr Jugnauth pointed out, investigates all complaints referred to it, and where warranted, conducts special examinations at the banks. He underlined that most of the complaints addressed to the BoM were unfounded and therefore, did not warrant supervisory actions, adding that in some cases, and to the extent that the law permits, the BoM had directed banks to redress grievances of the complainants to their satisfaction. In a few instances, banks were required to compensate customers. In exceptional circumstances, banks had agreed to give the customers more time and agreed to restructure their loans, he said.
The Prime Minister further highlighted that on a half-yearly basis, the BoM holds a Complaints Handling Committee with senior representatives of banks to improve the customer complaint redressal mechanism, and the systems and procedures in relation to complaints. He explained that complaints are separately taken up at bank-level during trilateral meetings with the BoM, in the presence of the Board Representatives, Chief Executives and External Auditors. The complaints are also discussed at the Banking Committee where the Chief Executives of the banks are present, he said.
Mr Jugnauth recalled that the report entitled 'Banking Your Future' has been revived and a Working Group, comprising representatives of the BoM, the Mauritius Bankers Association and commercial banks, is currently looking into the recommendations made in the Banking Your Future Report. The objective of the Working Group, he emphasised, is to ensure a fair bank-customer relationship and an inclusive banking sector.
Moreover, the Prime Minister indicated that the BoM has issued directives in certain cases and collaborated by taking necessary measures.