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Help for jobless

A local financial institution has launched a new initiative aimed at mitigating some of the expected fallout from Government’s plan to send home 3,000 public sector employees.

Republic Bank (Barbados) Limited today unveiled its Financial Care Unit (FCU), within it retail banking division; its main aim to provide “prompt, relevant and sound financial advice to borrowers” who might have been laid off and are having trouble meeting their financial obligations to the bank and other financial institutions.

“We believe the establishment of this unit to be a good thing . . . . We believe that we have the experience and the knowledge to assist those persons who will, with the prospect of no immediate income, worry about their ability to service their financial obligations. The inability to continue servicing their debt was one of the main concerns voiced by the workers who were retrenched on Friday,” said Republic’s senior manager, Risk Retail and Special Credit Unit,
Carlos Brathwaithe.

He told the media that it was anticipated that the public, regardless of whether or not they were customers of the bank, would call on the unit.

“The Financial Care Unit will be available to anyone desirous of utilizing its services – our customers or not . . . We will offer debt counselling, debt consolidation, and perhaps be able to structure even longer repayment periods in order to accommodate reduced income.

“We will be able to offer anyone utilizing the unit the guidance they might require with respect to the disposal of assets that will assist in reducing their debt and counseling as to how to better manage their expenses at this time,” Brathwaite added, while noting that the unit would assist the Bank in taking early corrective action to mitigate the impact of layoffs on its loans portfolio.

Manager of retail services Steven Jordan, in describing the initiative as a preemptive approach to assisting affected persons and the community as whole, revealed that the project will be under taken initially as a pilot, in the initial stages.

“We are proposing initially to run a pilot project for three months after which time, we will look at how beneficial it has been. [Then] we will make a determination as to how we may want to expand it into some of our other branches. My understanding is that we are also looking at the possibility of seeing if we can have it on our website as a point of contact,” he explained.

The FCU will be located at the bank’s flagship Broad Street branch and will have a dedicated number, which Jordan is urging persons to call and set up appointments.

“[This is] as apposed to walking in, given the nature of the whole exercise.  You would want them to have an initial discussion so that when they come, they are ready to sit down and have a meaningful meeting.”

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