New Gold Rush Gov’t must get it right for the betterment of Hardworking Bahamians
Nassau, Bahamas — We here at BP would like to offer some free advice to the Christie- Led-Government. This would be a start to the Course Correction required to right the tilting “Ship of State”.
The Government in its quest to comply with its 100 Day Promise, rushed through a hastily prepared Mortgage Relief Plan. While the idea was a noble one, it had the “Rat Watching The Cheese”. The Government solicited the help of the Banks to design the Relief Plan. This was a mistake of monumental proportions. The Big Banks are Pro-FNM and its Executives and Bahamian “Lackeys” are not for the small man. A former top Banker told BP: “The foreign-owned Banks are managed out of Canada, Barbados and Trinidad and they don’t care about the small average Bahamian. Further, the bank headed by a local Bahamian, who the PLP thinks supports them, is a joke, he only looks out for himself.”
The other Bank, which is owned mainly by “Rum-Running” Bahamian families notably the Symonettes, don’t care for the PLP nor the small man! In fact, in any other part of the world, their operations would be considered “Loan Sharking”. They gouge the small man with add- on interest rates that are exorbitant, in our view.
The Government now has an opportunity to redeem itself in the eyes of the people and do something that would put pressure on the Banks, forcing them to do what is right, decent and proper!
It is our understanding that the Government proposes to bring a “Borrowers Protection Bill” to the Floor of the Parliament for debate, soon. We say bring it sooner rather than later! The Bill represents your core constituents and you would have embarked on landmark legislation that will assist people and prove that you really BELIEVE in Bahamians. While we know of no Town Meetings being held or of any consultations with stakeholders, we hope that the Government DID NOT allow the “Rats” to watch the “Cheese” again. It is unwise to have only consulted with the Banks and Chamber of Commerce, as they do not represent the best interests your Constituents. Please do not abrogate your national responsibility to these “leeches”. You have a sworn duty to the people who elected you!
We will hold the Government in contempt if provisions in respect to Hire/ Purchase Agreements are not contained in the Bill. We are referring to Chattel Mortgages over Vehicles and Furniture. Your Constituents are being gouged on a daily basis by the Banks who lend, without downpayment for the purchase of these consumer goods. Heck, they even include the insurance and allow you 60 days “grace”.
In an effort to fatten the bottom line of the Auto Dealers, Furniture Stores and their own bottom line, the banks have been defying the rules of the Central Bank without recourse. The Central Bank has down payment requirements in respect to certain purchases, including Real Property. Why do the Banks not finance Real Estate at 120% like they do with furniture and cars? Good question! One answer may be that they cannot charge you the same rate of interest as they do on consumer goods.
Now to the crux of the matter. In all jurisdictions in the Western Hemisphere, we are the only country where after you have defaulted on your car or furniture payment and the Chattel is repossessed and sold by the banks, you are still responsible for the outstanding balance, if the selling price is less than what you owed. This is inspite of the fact that you no longer have use of the Chattel. Customers are then taken to court in order to force payments or paying Judgment against them, so that they are prevented from doing any business until the debt is settled.
In our view, this is a criminal act which must be corrected forthwith. Once the Chattel is picked-up and the banks disposes of it, the Hire/ Purchase Agreement ends, Full Stop. This is the case in all civilized jurisdictions and must be contained in the “proposed” Borrowers Protection Bill.
Constituents will appreciate the government for it and the Banks which disrespect the government anyway, will get the message!
The interest spread on what Banks charge a client on loans above what they pay on deposits, must also be included, as well. This, in our view, is another way in which we are being taken to the cleaners by these Banks. We will have more to say on this and other matters in the near future.
Please Mister Minister of Finance, heed our admonition, this advice is meant to put you on the path to redeem your Government in the eyes of your constituents. Do not fall to the whims of the Lobbyists and do what is right and decent.
We are watching.
A word to the wise ought to be sufficient!