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By Theresa Goodwin

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The current moratorium on mortgages and loans, that was instituted earlier this year to ease the burden on residents who encountered financial difficulties as a direct result of the Covid-19 crisis, could be extended to another 12-month period depending on the circumstances of the customer.

The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) and the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) Bankers Association have issued a joint statement supporting the extension.

The regional institutions stated in the release that going forward, the loan repayment deferral programme (moratorium) will be based on an assessment of the financial condition of customers. 

In their sole discretion, banks in the ECCU region will consider extension requests up to a maximum period of 12 months from 1 October, 2020.  In addition to the deferral of loan repayments, a waiver of late fees and charges will be applicable to eligible customers during this period.

Each member bank will advise its customers of the details and process for the support programme, however some basic guidelines for granting of the moratorium will apply. These include: consideration for extensions shall be based on a review and assessment of the customer’s circumstances by the bank, and a request/application for extension by the customer; banks will monitor the customer’s circumstances on an ongoing basis during the given period of the moratorium; the terms and conditions of the moratorium granted shall allow the bank, in consultation with the customer, to curtail the moratorium should the customer’s improved circumstances merit such action,” the statement said.

It was also noted that banks will, at the time of arranging the extension, assess and discuss with customers the options for restructuring the loan at the end of the moratorium, especially treatment of the accumulated interest.

Households whose income has been negatively impacted will be treated on a case-by-case basis as well as all business owners whose incomes have been negatively impacted.

The ECCU and the ECCU also encouraged customers in need of support to contact their financial institutions directly for more information, as processes may differ.

The joint statement comes weeks after Prime Minister Gaston Browne hinted that he would be contacting various financial institutions on the island to discuss a possible extension of the deferral programme.

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