A lifeline for those in a financial bind


THE Credit Counselling And Debt Management Agency (AKPK) has helped more than 147,000 put their finances back on track since 2006.


An AKPK spokesman said about 56,737 people had also enrolled in its debt management programme (DMP) where assistance was provided to borrowers to work out a budget for living expenses and loan obligations.


This is aimed at minimising incidences of non-payment and averting foreclosure on their homes.


"Those who approach us come from all walks of life and their inability to repay debts is usually caused by poor financial planning, ignorance and lack of financial discipline to live within their means," the spokesman said.


"The tell-tale signs that someone is in financial trouble include paying the minimum balance each month for credit cards, taking frequent cash advances, receiving second and third payment notices from banks and creditors for non-payment of debts as well as living from paycheque to paycheque."


According to AKPK's statistics, more men are stuck in debts than women. From 2007 to March this year, 43.6 per cent or 22,879 out of 52,475 individuals who enrolled in the programme were between the ages of 30 and 40 while a majority -- 76.6 per cent or 40,218 -- were married.


Part of the programme includes incorporating consumer education that will help improve the financial sector by creating more astute borrowers and promoting a good payment and repayment culture.


"Increasing consumers' financial literacy can also foster their appreciation for the need to save, which serves as the basis for wealth accumulation, preparedness for financial uncertainties and comfortable retirement.


"Financial and credit education is the answer to many of the problems consumers face today and we have made it our goal to provide a variety of educational services designed to help individuals everywhere take control of their financial situation and gain peace of mind that comes from the wise use of credit."


The spokesman said more than 600 of the agency's customers have completed the repayment of their debts.


"Many of our clients showed absolute determination in paying their loans, and paying them back fast."