Republic Bank Independence Square Branch.

Republic Bank Limited (RBL) has announced that it will be lowering the interest rates on loans and giving parties the opportunity to defer loan payments.

Speaking on these measures recently on CNC3, Managing Director of RBL Nigel Baptiste said that the decisions made by the bank would assist with the liquidity requirements of companies.

Baptiste articulated: “The Prime Minister mentioned the deferral of loan payments. This is not a waiving of the loan payment, this is not a write off of the loan payment – this is a deferral of the loan payment.”

He continued: “Again it is intending to assist in the cash flow of the company. Not for the company to take and use otherwise but for the company to use that cash flow very wisely to see it through this crisis.”

Also implementing a deferral policy was Term Finance, which announced that it would offer deferrals on employee loan payments.

In a release, Term Finance indicated that it would only grant deferrals in cases where employers confirm that wages are being adversely affected.

Term Finance that it had has reached out to their Corporate Partners across the region to implement these strategies.

Term Finance CEO, Oliver Sabga said: “We have strong partnerships with the most reputable organizations across the region, this decision is in line with our commitment to treat employees with the highest level of compassion and responsibility, especially in times like these.”

Term Finance added that it would begin to reorient some of its loan officers to financial well being advisors.

Being a completely web-based lending institution, Term Finance said it remains open and ready to serve existing and new customers with their credit needs.

Meanwhile, Baptiste remarked that he couldn’t speak on behalf of other banks but there are a number of measures that RBL has been discussing and prepared to do – such as the reduction of interest rates that are linked to the bank’s prime lending rates.

Baptiste commented that there are multiple things to look at as a country, individuals and businesses to ensure that everyone is able to make it to the other side of this crisis.

He noted that this includes “protecting ourselves” where; businesses are protecting employees and the country protecting citizens. It also includes preserving the cash flow of operations, individuals and the country. The third principle, according to Baptiste, is protecting the supply chain, which involves access to basic goods for individuals and access to inputs for businesses.

The RBL MD said that as a society people need to stay close (not physically) to others to understand the needs of the individuals and added that persons cannot withdraw from their societal responsibility.

According to Baptiste, the discussions between the finance sub-committee that the Prime Minister introduced and established in conjunction with the banking sector has commenced and stakeholders have had very healthy exchanges thus far.

Baptiste said the question of if the banking sector has a heart, may be challenged based on the decisions of the banking institutions in the midst of the current crisis.

He said: “As far as I am concerned, all of the bankers have always had hearts and this will be another opportunity for the banking sector to show to the wider community exactly how big our heart is.”

Baptiste said that the bankers share a responsibility in ensuring that T&T, and not just the business community, but all the individuals in T&T are able to successfully come out on the other side of this crisis.