The increasing number of reported incidents of foreign domestic workers borrowing from licensed and unlicensed moneylenders has raised concerns among the public, especially with employers.
Although the police have advised foreign domestic workers on the negative consequences of borrowing from unlicensed moneylenders, there is little the authorities can do to discourage them from borrowing from licensed ones.
More recently, photos of queues formed by foreign domestic workers at moneylending outfits have gone viral on social media.
The Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (Fast) has also received calls from foreign domestic workers seeking advice regarding moneylending matters. Some of these workers innocently stand as guarantors for their friends. One caller even sought advice on whether she should be her friend's guarantor to borrow from a second moneylender.
We hope the authorities will step up enforcement action to stop moneylenders from encouraging borrowing from multiple lenders.
From the feedback that we received, we have found that foreign domestic workers borrow from one another, employers and moneylenders because of financial problems back home.
Those with genuine financial needs should speak to their employers or their employment agencies to seek help instead of borrowing from moneylenders.
For those who borrow to support a lifestyle that they cannot afford, we urge them to exercise prudence. They should not spend beyond their means.
Foreign domestic workers who default on payment are likely to drag their employers into the disputes with the moneylenders and their employment is likely to be terminated.
We believe educating foreign domestic workers is important. Fast urges all employment agencies and employers to educate foreign domestic workers on the dangers of borrowing from moneylenders.
Seah Seng Choon
Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training