MP calls on government to press banks on debt relief


Opposition MP Rushton Paray – SUREASH CHOLAI

MP for Mayaro Rushton Paray has said Minister of Finance Colm Imbert should be more aggressive in pressing the banking sector to grant debt relief in light of the negative financial impact of the covid19 pandemic.

In a release, Paray said it is unacceptable for the government-owned First Citizens Bank to be the only large financial institution to commit to loan moratoriums.

“Mr Imbert and Central Bank Governor Dr Alvin Hilaire must publicly speak out on the recalcitrant banks and must privately bring pressure upon them to offer the facility of restructured loans,” he said. “At the same time, they must thank and congratulate the supportive smaller financial institutions, including credit unions.”

He said other financial institutions in most countries have introduced monetary policies, including debt relief, to aid financially stricken families and business owners.

“In certain cases governments have implemented measures in which restructured plans are tied to saving workers’ jobs and averting business insolvencies. In Trinidad and Tobago, the ineffective Minister of Finance is permitting the tail to wag the dog by allowing self-serving financial institutions to protect their shareholders’ interest at all costs.”

He said as a result of this, loans have mounted and borrowers are at the mercy of financial institutions.

Tthe government, he said,has left the public to fend for themselves during the pandemic and has refused to hold discussions with interests groups.

Paray referred to a recent statement by president of the Downtown Owners’ and Merchants’ Association Gregory Aboud, who said the government has held “zero consultations” on strategies to find solutions.

“Mr Aboud is also correct in speaking out about the ‘hopelessness and despair’ and ‘the walloping blow’ caused by covid19 on the business community. The authorities must begin to display national leadership.”

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