Fewer banks offering loan deferrals as Trinidad and Tobago remains in SoE


First Citizens branch on Independence Square, Port of Spain. File photo. –

Two weeks after the Central Bank announced a moratorium on loans until September 30, a handful of commercial financial intuitions have started offering customers whose income is affected by covid19 restrictions, the option to delay their loan payments.

Hand Credit Union, on its website, said customers can have their loans deferred for up to three months “to assist members adversely affected by covid19.” Approval of the deferral is dependent on each member’s individual financial situation, the credit union said.

State-owned First Citizen Bank has also followed in this path offering loans and mortgage payment concessions until an unspecified time. One condition of this option is that customers must acknowledge that “the deferred interest will be paid via the extension of the mortgage for the corresponding period.” Customers have until July 31 to request deferrals.

At a press conference two weeks ago, Prime Minister Dr Rowley called on banks to be lenient with customers affected by the State’s decision to close several sectors in an effort to battle the upsurge in covid19 cases and deaths. Thousands are without a job or an income given the closure of all food outlets, all bars and all retail businesses including malls.

This is the second time banks are being called on to defer loan and mortgage payments. In 2020, while the country experienced its first wave of the virus and the government imposed restrictions to contain its spread, banks responded to the government’s calls to tolerate customers unable to make payments.

This time around, at least for now, it appears as if more commercial banks and credit unions are weighing their options on whether or not to offer such help to its customers.

JMMB and Eastern Credit Union representatives told Newsday on Tuesday they are yet to determine if and how they will offer any deferrals. JMMB is expected to make some kind of announcement by next week.

Scotia bank officials explained that while they have no plans at present to offer deferred payment plans to its customers, it will provide solutions to those with “unique financial” situations to support their needs.

Royal Bank of Canada told Newsday it has no plans to reintroduce a loans deferral option but is prepared to assist customers who have challenges in making payments due to public health restrictions and the state of emergency. Officials at Republic Banks also said they aren’t offering their customers deferral options.

Attempts to reach major furniture stores including Courts TT and Standards Distributors Ltd, on deferrals for customers with Hire Purchase and other loans, were unsuccessful. Texts and calls to officials from the Bankers Association (BATT) were also unanswered on Tuesday.

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