COVID-19: Renters, Mortgage Holders Will Need Some Form Of Relief To Beat The Crisis

Banks and financial institutions are in the best position to help Government keep the wheels of the economy turning. It’s in their interest that they consider some sort of package to bail out clients during this trying time.
22 Mar 2020 13:37
COVID-19: Renters, Mortgage Holders Will Need Some Form Of Relief To Beat The Crisis
Several new housing projects underway at New Tacirua, Tamavua sub-division. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

Ask any serious worker what’s foremost in their minds at this time – their emphatic response is “rent and mortgage”.

As the coronavirus impact continues to hit the economy, some workers have lost their jobs, others have taken pay cuts and reduced their working hours.That means either no income or reduced income.

The Government does not have the capacity to meet this need. But banks and financial institutions do. They can support Government’s efforts to ensure that every Fijian is looked after.

They can invite clients struggling to meet their commitments to a talanoa session. They can discuss how best clients can service their loans. Some clients may like a reduced mortgage rate to help them ride out the storm. Others may plead inability to pay at all.

Adaptable packages

The banks and financial institutions can work out packages that are tailor-made to suit the different groups. They can recoup these so-called overdrafts or refinancing to a later date when the situation returns to normal,

In one workplace, employees are saying that they are willing to take a big pay cut to keep the business running if the banks and financial institutions can help with their mortgage and rents.

Landlords who borrowed heavily for their rental properties could also find themselves in dire strait if tenants can’t pay rent because they have lost jobs or are working reduced hours. They too would need assistance.

Show some support

The point here is that those who are in a position to help this is the time to step in and show they do care for the people and the country as a whole.

Shareholders in commercial organisations can also show some compassion. It would be unrealistic at this time to expect dividends they were getting before this crisis. Fiji has been hammered badly by four major events – the economic slowdown, the measles outbreak, two cyclones and now the coronavirus.

Unless we all pull together, the economy could collapse like a house of cards. Any measure that could help keep the economy on its feet is essential.

Imagine if many people can’t meet their mortgage and rent commitments? It would be catastrophic. Businesses would wind up and there would be mass unemployment. We do not want to go down that road.


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