Following on the announcements of The Honourable Prime Minister at the press conference of March 16th, 2020, the Bankers Association of Trinidad & Tobago (BATT) has taken several decisions to respond to the business and economic impact of measures taken to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The measures are aligned to our collective responsibility as a society to protect our employees, our clients, business and ultimately our country.
The Banking and Insurance Financial Services Sub-Committee of Cabinet, formed to address the related issues under the threat of the virus, has met and in coordination with the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (GORTT) and the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT) and the various Business Organisations, BATT has arrived at several measures designed to provide cash-flow relief to those customers who need it. Our approach is based on the philosophy that as we support our business clients they can in turn provide the support to their employees and together we will work through the impact of Covid-19 and in summary are based on the following:
1. Banks will all be reducing their Prime Lending rate by at least 1.5% following the reduction in Repo Rate by the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago. This reduction will reduce the interest cost for all clients whose loans are re-priced on Prime.
2. In addition to this interest rate reduction, for varying loan types applied to both Individuals and business clients, some deferral of interest and/or principal payments will be considered by banks for at least one month for clients wishing to access this based on their circumstances being adversely impacted by the measures taken related to Covid -19. Arrangements will vary by institution and by type of loan. This will allow our customers to use the cash from these payments, for critical needs over the next month.
3. Consideration is being given by Banks to temporarily reducing the rates on credit card balances. The specifics of the changes will be communicated by individual Banks to their respective customer base.
Individually and collectively, Banks will leverage their strengths to provide creative and flexible solutions to our customers. The focus at this time is to assist customers, both business and individual, in meeting
their critical, immediate and short-term needs, to weather this global pandemic. Each Bank will customise and roll out the solutions to their individual clients. BATT will continue to work to monitor and coordinate the Sector response in the best interest of the national economy.
BATT fully understands the measures being taken by the GORTT and is committed to a coordinated approach which ensures that we all work together to deal with the impact of this situation.
BATT reaffirms the Prime Minister’s assertions that as a country, we have the wherewithal and the resources required to address this threat, especially if we act urgently and collectively. Our financial services sector is very well capitalized, strong and geared to respond effectively to our needs as a society, in the circumstances posed by COVID-19.