Consumer debt forgiveness law ruled out

Monday 17 May 2010 16.59
Dermot Ahern - Law body makes personal debt proposals
Dermot Ahern - Law body makes personal debt proposals

The Minister for Justice has ruled out the introduction of a 'NAMA for the people' - a debt forgiveness scheme for consumers who cannot afford to pay back money they owe to banks.

Speaking in Dublin, Dermot Ahern said debt was money owed to somebody, and it was not for the Government to pass laws saying the debt was not there anymore.

But the Minister added that the Government would try to ensure that people having problems paying debts would be looked at favourably.

The Minister was speaking at the launch of the Law Reform Commission's interim report on personal debt, which contains a 14-point action plan on immediate steps which could be taken to help alleviate the pressure surrounding personal debt.

Among the proposals is the suggestion that a Standard Financial Statement should be developed, which would give a complete overview of an individual's financial health. The Commission thinks this may help end the problem of creditors not taking people's other debts into account when assessing how much they should pay.

The Commission also wants the protocol on managing debt, agreed between the banking industry and the Money Advice and Budgeting Service, extended to cover other bodies like credit unions, sub-prime lenders and utility companies.

It also suggests that a website be set up to provide a one-stop-shop for people looking for information on how best to manage their debt.

The Commission produced the 14-point plan as part of its development of a full and final report on proposed reform of the debt management and enforcement laws here. The consultation process for that study started last September and the final report should be completed by the end of the year.