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BTFL lifeline pays dividends

Article taken from the BarbadosToday – January 23, 2023

The lifeline thrown to Barbados Trust Fund Limited (BTFL) clients who fell on hard times when sales dropped due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is bearing fruit.

Word of this has come from managing director Gerry Amos, who said that rather than being tough on delinquent clients the trust fund continued to work closely with entrepreneurs to ensure they keep their doors open while repaying their loans.

“Between April [2022] and now, we would have seen increased payments by over 100 per cent . . . . So our payments have increased significantly coming out of all those programmes we have put in place,” he reported.

Amos said even before the Restructuring and Rescheduling Your Loan (Re Re) programme in mid-2021, officials of the BTFL were meeting with clients to hear their situations and put payment plans in place.

“We decided that we would go into the ReRe programme where we could cover a large number of persons at one time and that was a successful programme. We now are seeing the benefits of that,” he said.

Amos was responding to a question from Barbados TODAY during a recent media conference to announce a new partnership between the BTFL and the BET Co-operative Credit Union Ltd., designed to allow clients of the trust fund to access loans above the $10 000 limit.

Explaining how the Re Re programme works, he said: “What that really did is restructured and rescheduled the persons’ loans and we would have taken the interest off the loans and set persons’ loans back to zero and rescheduled the whole process.”

“We don’t want to set a target for clients to say ‘hey, you are in arrears, pay us all of the arrears now’. We are saying to clients ‘you are now coming out of a dire situation, just pay us your monthly payment and we will spread the time out that you could cover that payment’. That in itself helped to keep those businesses afloat. We are in the business of reducing business closures,” he added.

More than 500 of BTFL’s 4 500 clients have so far gone through the Re Re programme, and the general manager has assured the agency will continue to provide assistance to clients where possible as it ensures payments are made.

“What we are concentrating on now is payments. The reason we are concentrating on payments is because coming out of COVID we recognise that persons would have slipped into arrears position, but because the businesses have not yet fully recovered we don’t demand that they cover their arrears.

“We demand that they cover the principal amount that they have to pay monthly. So to look at arrears at this time would be incorrect because we are not concentrating on that.

We are concentrating on getting them on a payment path to recovery, not only that we as an institution get our money but to ensure that the business survives because we concentrate significantly on reducing business closures,” Amos explained. (MM)

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