OVER 70 COOPERATIVES SERVICED AT FSRA

OVER 70 COOPERATIVES SERVICED AT FSRA

Over 70 cooperatives are reported to be serviced by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA), according to the regulator’s Stakeholder and Consumers Affairs Head at FSRA, Mbuso Gamedze. He said so far they were enjoying a good relationship with their stakeholders and were doing all they could to dissolve financial problems within cooperatives as well as individuals. A cooperative is an association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically controlled enterprise. It can also be described as a group of people with a common bond pulling their resources to achieve
commonly agreed mutual objectives. Some cooperatives are defined as financial institutions that predominantly
provide savings and loans to its members. Gamedze added saying the FSRA Act provides for the establishment
of the Office of the Ombudsman of Financial Services (OFS); an independent body corporate with the legislative mandate to receive, investigate and make determinations on complaints against authorized financial service providers. This emanates from the Authority’s mandate to protect all stakeholders whilst promoting fairness, efficiency and orderliness of the non-bank financial sector, an obligation they are ably executing. Part of the functions of the Ombudsman of Financial Services are; to assess, facilitate, conciliate and mediate the conclusion of binding settlement agreements in respect to financial services complaints; to investigate and make binding
rulings and/or determinations with respect to financial services complaints and disputes; to educate all stakeholders including consumers, financial services providers, consumer bodies and associations about the role, procedures, and jurisdiction of the office; to educate the public on correct procedures for filing complaints and promote the principles of good business practice in handling complaints by the industry; to educate the public on
the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction and explain what types of complaints the Ombudsman will not entertain; to encourage industry to abide by the provisions of their relevant industry code of conduct. Others are to report material,
persistent non-compliance with Eswatini’s financial services laws to the relevant regulators; to protect
consumers by identifying fraudulent operators and publicising the information; and to work with other Ombudsmen in the SADC Region. Gamedze said the regulator may only consider a complaint between a financial services provider and a complainant who may be an individual (s) including those acting as a trustee, legal or personal individual;
they also consider complaints proceedings coming from any other business. Corporate trustee of self-managed retirement funds and clubs or incorporated associations as well as policy holders of a group life or general insurances, also bring their complaints to FSRA which are thus far ably handled.Gamedze said not any complaint
can be brought to the regulator, asit was seen when the regulator firstcame in and this is due to lack of
knowledge in terms of the operations of the regulator. “The type of complaints that can be lodged at the
office of the regulator include but not limited to; retirement, pension, and provident fund complaints,” said Gamedze, adding that others like long or short term insurance, SACCO’S credit providers, building societies, credit bureaus, pawn brokers, hire purchase, medical aid schemes and securities complaints are what are tolerated at FSRA.
Gamedze also observed that stakeholders have often come empty handed at the regulator yet a complainant should first lodge in a written complaint with the authorised financial services provider. He said if the complainant is not satisfied with the response of the complaint lodged with the authorised service provider or if no response is
received by the complainant within 30 days, the complainant may lodge a complaint with the Ombudsman. The regulator’s Stakeholder and Consumers Affairs Head said stakeholders need to know that before submitting the complaint form, it must have been sworn to before a commissioner of oaths. Asked if stakeholders can bring
a complaint to the Ombudsman if they have instituted legal proceedings on the same matter in another forum he said the Ombudsman will not investigate a complaint if before the lodging of the complaint proceedings have been instituted in any civil court in respect of a matter which would constitute the subject matter of the investigation. “This would also be the case where a matter has been brought to its proper conclusion in a civil court and the complainant is attempting to revive the same matter in an alternative forum,” said Gamedze.

Leave a Reply

Close Menu
×