Consumers International, which represents 220 consumer organisations in 115 countries including PIAC, urgently wants to see the needs of everyday consumers of financial services pushed to the top of the agenda at this week’s G20 summit. Consumer organisations from 30 countries, including the G20 countries, have signed an open letter pressing the summit attendees to ensure that the worldwide financial crisis is never repeated.
Justin Macmullan, CI’s head of campaigns explains: “Many G20 members have sought to increase financial stability through the development of stress tests, improved independence of credit rating agencies and requirements to increase capital ratios. And yet, as a group, the G20 has done nothing to address consumer financial protection which – as exemplified by US sub-prime mortgages – was a key catalyst for the financial crisis.
“The interconnected nature of global banking means that people around the world will live with the consequences of this for years to come. And yet, each year the global economy creates up to 150 million new consumers of financial services, many of whom are in countries where consumer protection and financial literacy are woefully inadequate.
CI urgently wants to see the establishment of an Experts Group on Consumer Financial Protection which would help to ensure that consumers from both developed and developing nations have access to stable, fair and competitive financial services.
CI members around the world have been lobbying their own governments as well as the South Korean government to make sure that the interests of “real people” are not overlooked for the interests of big business.
Justin Macmullan concluded: “The time has come for the G20 world leaders to make a real commitment to protecting their citizens from abusive financial services industry practices which are not in the best interests of the consumer.
“International co-operation on financial consumer protection has the potential to deliver substantial savings for individual governments. This can be achieved through the co-ordination of research, the development of standards and guidelines, the sharing of best practice and the avoidance of costly crises.”
CI wants the Experts Group on Consumer Financial Protection to create and recommend adoption by national governments of minimum standards relating to:
· Fair contract terms and charges for financial products and services
· Information design and disclosure on financial products
· The governance and functions of national financial consumer protection bodies.
It should also make recommendations for:
· The promotion of effective competition in markets for financial consumer services
· The development of a permanent organisation for international standard setting and co-ordination with regard to financial consumer protection.
The signatories to CI’s open letter are:
Samuel Ochieng, President, Consumers International and Chief Executive, CIN, KENYA
James A Guest, Vice President, Consumers International and President and CEO, Consumers Union of U.S. Inc, U.S
Consumer organisations in G20 countries
Ricardo Nasio, President, PROCONSUMER, ARGENTINA
Beatriz Garcia Buitrago, President, Consumidores Argentinos, ARGENTINA
Nick Stace, Chief Executive, Choice, AUSTRALIA
Lisa Gunn, Executive Co-ordinator, IDEC, BRAZIL
Maria Ines Dolc, Institutional Coordinator, Proteste, BRAZIL
Michel Arnold, Executive Director, Option Consommateurs, CANADA
John Lawford, Counsel, Public Interest Advocacy Centre, CANADA
Connie Lau, Chief Executive, Hong Kong Consumer Council, CHINA
Monique Goyens, Director General, BEUC – The European Consumers Organisation, EUROPEAN UNION
Reine-Claude Mader, President, CLCV, FRANCE
Alain Bazot, President, UFC-QUE Choisir?, FRANCE
Gerd Billen, President, Federation of German Consumer Organisations, GERMANY
Pradeep S Mehta, CUTS International, INDIA
Nirmala Desikan, Trustee, Consumers Association of INDIA
Sudaryatmo, SH, Charirman, Yayasan Lembarga Konsumen, INDONESIA
Luisa Crisigiovanni, Director of Altroconsuomo, ITALY
Maite Cortes Garcia Lozano, Colectivo Ecologista Jalisco, MEXICO
Alejandro Calvillo Unna, Executive Director, El Poder del Consumidor, MEXICO
Petr Shelisch, Chairman of the Consumers Union of RUSSIA
Mr Dmitriy Yanin, Director of the Confederation of Consumer Associations of RUSSIA
Dr. Mohammad A. Al Hamad, Chairman of the Executive Board, President of the Consumer Protection Association, SAUDI ARABIA
Thami Bolani, Chairman, National Consumer Forum, SOUTH AFRICA
Jaiok Kim, President, Consumers Korea, SOUTH KOREA
Ali Cetin, President, Federation of Consumer Organisations, TURKEY
Peter Vicary-Smith, Which? UK
Non-G20 countries invited to attend the summit
John Kapito, Executive Director, Consumers Association of MALAWI
Francisco Sanchez Legran, President, FACUA – Consumers in Action, SPAIN
Jose Maria Mugica Flores, Director General, OCU, SPAIN
Ana Isabel Ceballo Sierra, President, Asociación General de Consumidores, ASGECO Confederación, SPAIN
Do Gia Phan, Vice President, Vietnam Standard and Consumers Association, VIETNAM