The Banker’s Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BATT) has responded to Opposition member and MP for Tabaquite Dr Surujrattan Rambachan’s charge that banks were being unkind to the citizenry during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In an email response, the Association said the banks were the very first organisations to indicate support for clients and the communities through a composition of, deferral of loan payments, waivers of fees, reduction in interest rates, and donations to various charitable initiatives.
It stated emphatically, however, from the dawn of fallouts by COVID-19 and the supposed financial toll it threatened to take on clients, the banks indicated that the loan deferrals were not loan waivers.
“This information was clearly indicated by all of our staff involved in the process, our published comments on the topic, and could also be found on all of the banks’ websites,” the Association said.
It added, however, there seemed to be a continued misunderstanding about the loan deferrals and said the comments made by Rambachan echoed what the banks have heard from other sources.
“The comments in this regard, and those by the MP, always also include some reference to the banks’ profitability and derogatory comments around the banks being unkind or uncaring during the time of COVID,” wrote the Association.
The Association argued all of the commercial banks in T&T were publicly owned companies and the profits earned were used for three purposes—payment of taxes, payment of dividends to shareholders and Retained in the bank to enable the bank to boost its capital to— lend more to contribute to the growth of the business and retail sectors— to withstand any shocks such as what occurred in 2008 (global financial crisis) and what is occurring now during this time of COVID.
Last Thursday during his contribution to a private motion in Parliament, Rambachan said, “I make bold to say that banks have not been very kind to the people during this time of COVID.”