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Bahamas PM hints at more mortgage relief

Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie gets the attention of youngsters at a fair.

NASSAU — The government may expand its mortgage relief plan to cover a greater number of financially troubled homeowners if government revenue increases, Prime Minister Perry Christie said yesterday.

Christie noted that the plan’s current structure, which is set up to help about 1,100 homeowners, is based on the fiscal constraints of the public purse; the program’s current government expenditure cap is $10 million.

“Clearly, everyone must know we could make a decision to make it a $50 million program, but that would not make fiscal sense,” Christie told reporters outside the House of Assembly. “We’ve introduced a program that would cover a certain category of mortgage holders and we will be able to look at how that works, with a view of increasing the categories that are affected.

“If [government revenue] improves, the program would improve and the amount of people we help will improve, but we’ve started and they (the Free National Movement) said that we would never start.”

The prime minister added that the programme has the full support of the Clearing Banks Association.

Christie’s comments came days after FNM Leader Dr. Hubert Minnis criticized the framework of the plan, claiming it would only help about 700 homeowners. Minnis also argued that the government’s plan will not help unemployed homeowners who are facing foreclosure.

Yesterday, former Minister of State for Finance Zhivargo Laing said the PLP’s plan would have a “marginal” impact and added that many of its elements are already being employed by clearing banks.

“Quite frankly it is a fanciful plan,”‚Laing said. “The plan essentially says if you meet the criterion that any bank would meet to give you a refinanced mortgage then [you meet the plan’s criteria].” (Nassau Guardian)

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