Recreational Fishing Fee Agent – Debt Recovery policy
Policy Number TI-O-119 Effective Date 04 Jan 2012 Review Date 30 November 2014
This policy aims to ensure the efficient and consistent administration of debt recovery actions specific to NSW recreational fishing fee agents.
This policy applies to dealings with agents that provide recreational fishing fee payment services or formerly provided such service. This includes agents who become debtors by collecting payments and issuing receipts from books provided by the department.
The policy is to be complied with by all staff associated with the issue of receipt books, receiving of monies from agents, reconciling of accounts and any actions associated with late or non submission of monthly returns and payments.
The policy does not apply to agents solely providing payment services through electronic means such as 'Touch' payment facilities. It also does not apply to 'Prepaid' agents exclusively selling fishing fee receipts from prepaid receipt books.
Debt recovery from recreational fishing fee agents involves managing the risks of revenue not being paid into the respective Recreational Fishing Trust, with the need to provide the public with reasonable access to pay the fee.
The goals are to minimise overdue debt accrual and recover outstanding debt in accordance with the Treasurer's Directions.
Consistent with these goals the debt recovery action will include:
- Timely reminders to agents regarding overdue returns and payments
- Suspension of agency agreements when payments remain overdue after such reminders
- Scope for payment plans in some circumstances to provide flexible debt recovery action
- Recovery of debts through debt recovery service providers or legal proceedings
- Agency termination where debts are not recovered under the above steps
- Write off of irrecoverable debts.
The policy should be used together with the Recreational Fishing Fee Debt Recovery work instructions which provide more detail on the steps listed below.
- New agents: Before authorising new agents a credit history check is to be undertaken. References are also required from three existing credit providers including the applicant's normal business bank. Where a poor credit history is established the new agent application will generally be refused. Approved Standard agents are required to pay a $200 bond prior to the issue of fishing fee receipt books. Approved Gold agents are not required to pay a bond.
- Late submission of monthly agent returns and payment: Where an agent fails to submit the monthly return and/or payment by the 20th day of the following month, a reminder letter seeking the return and/or payment is to be sent in accordance with work instructions determined by the department. In cases where agents fall 2 months behind with returns and payments a further reminder letter is to be sent in accordance with work instructions determined by the department. This letter is to indicate agent suspension will occur if the agent fails to submit returns and payments within the time period determined by the department. Phone contact should also be made with the agent in accordance with the work instructions.
- Agent suspension: Agents falling 3 months behind in submitting returns and/or payments will be suspended. No further licence books are to be issued until all returns and payments are brought up to date. Suspension advice to agents will be by letter and phone contact, which will include advice that returns and payment must be made within the period determined by the department, unless the department is prepared to offer the option of a payment plan as detailed below. Where an agent fails to submit the required returns and payment within the period determined by the department, or alternatively fails to meet obligations under a payment plan where applicable, the agent will be required to return all receipt books.
- Payment plans: The department may offer suspended agents the option of entering into a payment plan depending on the individual circumstances of the matter. Where a payment plan is offered, the details of the plan are to be negotiated and agreed to by the agent and the department. Despite any plan, agent suspension including a freeze on the issue of further receipt books remains in place until all returns and payments are brought up to date. Agents failing to meet their obligations under an approved payment plan will be sent a final letter and phoned to advise they have 28 days to lodge outstanding returns and payment.
- Debt recovery agency: If the agent fails to submit the required returns and payment within the period specified following agent suspension, or does not comply with a 28 day notice following default on an approved payment plan, the department will engage a debt recovery agency. A debt recovery agency will only be engaged where the payment amount is known to, or expected to exceed the amount determined by the department from time to time.
- Legal proceedings: In cases where the outstanding payments are known to, or expected to be greater than the amount determined by the department, and debt recovery through an agency has been unsuccessful, legal proceedings to recover the debt may be initiated. This will however depend on the individual circumstances of each matter. In particular the size of the debt, likelihood of recovery and costs involved in legal proceedings must all be considered together with any advice from the department's Legal Branch.
- Agent termination: After unsuccessful debt recovery action the agent is to be sent a letter advising of the department's intention to terminate the agreement. The letter is to provide a final period of 28 days for any representations the agent may wish to make to resolve outstanding payments. In the case of a Standard agent, the letter will also advise that the $200 bond will be forfeited on termination of the agent agreement. If no representations are received within the 28 day period, the agent agreement is to be terminated. Any representations received will be determined by an internal review panel established in accordance with the work instructions. Where it has not been possible to recover all the issued receipt books, receipt numbers from any unrecovered receipt books will be recorded in the department's systems as cancelled.
- Writing off debt: In cases where attempts to recover outstanding payments have been unsuccessful and/or the debt is deemed uneconomical to pursue, (refer to work instructions for further guidance) approval may be sought to have the debt written off in accordance with the provisions of 5.12 of the Accounts Receivable policy A-005.
- Recreational Fishing Licence Agent – Debt Recovery Work Instructions
- Public Finance and Audit Act 1983 – Treasurer's Directions
- TD93/4 – Direction 450 Treasurer's Directions – Recovery of debts due to the state
- A-005 Accounts Receivable
Payments or Outstanding payments: means payments required to be made to the Department of Primary Industries for deposit into the Recreational Fishing Trusts, being monies paid by people who wish to undertake recreational fishing in New South Wales, collected through the services provided by agents authorised under and in accordance with the Agreement entered into with the department.
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Recreational and Indigenous Fisheries – Ph 02 4424 7421