The Department of Trade and Industry believes that the extinguishing of debt as proposed in the draft National Credit Amendment Bill will be constitutional as long as it follows a particular process that embodies the audi alteram partem (listen to the other side) rule. This was the view of senior counsel who advised the department on the constitutionality of the draft bill, which aims to offer debt relief — including ultimately the write-off of debt — to those with a gross income of less than R7,500 with no assets. Director-general Lionel October gave the response of the department and of the National Credit Regulator to the public comments on the proposed bill to Parliament’s trade and industry committee. The banking sector opposes the bill, arguing that banks have effective debt relief measures. Concerns were expressed that the move would be unconstitutional as it would deprive credit providers of their property. October said in a briefing to the parliamentary committee on Tuesday...

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