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Consumer loans for debt consolidation up in Q1 2016

Consumer loans for debt consolidation up in Q1 2016

Wed, Aug 31st 2016, 10:46 PM

The bulk of the 9,126 consumer loan applications in the first quarter of 2016 (Q1 2016) was for what The Central Bank of The Bahamas (CBOB) termed "consumer deleveraging", or debt consolidation. And the overwhelming majority of those loans that were denied were denied because the applicants' total debt service ratios (TDSR) exceeded the Central Bank's requirement.

The analysis was presented and expanded in the Quarterly Bank Lending Conditions Survey Report for March 2016.

With respect to consumer loan applications, the regulator reported that the 9,000-plus consumer requests comprised 91.4 percent of total loan applications received, slightly lower than the previous quarter's "holiday season influenced" share of 93.1 percent.

"Consumer deleveraging dominated the trends, with the bulk related to debt consolidation (73.3 percent), up from the 51.9 percent noted in the fourth quarter of 2015," the CBOB said.

The numbers show that more than 6,600 consumer loan applications in Q1 2016 were for consolidation of debt, and that 5,493 of them were approved. And while borrowing for miscellaneous purposes including utility bills, funeral arrangements and the repayment of existing credit lines was up over the previous quarter, private cars and credit cards accounted for a smaller share than last quarter.

"Meanwhile, the volume of applications for travel, education, home improvement and furniture/appliance loans--which are also likely to exhibit seasonality--comprised 6.1 percent of total consumer requests, compared to 25 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015," the report said.

With regard to credit decisions, consumer loans had an approval rate of 83.5 percent, up slightly from the previous three-month period.

"In particular, debt consolidation had an approval rate of 82.1 percent, in line with its rate in the prior quarter," the regulator noted, adding that applications for "miscellaneous" had an almost steady approval rate of 93.6 percent.

"Also noteworthy were favorable responses on 40 of the 41 applications for land purchases. Banks identified mixed reasons for application denials," the CBOB said.

The report explained that by far the leading cause -- 88.8 percent -- for consumer loan denials in Q1 2016 was the fact that the applicants' TDSR exceeded the Central Bank's requirement. In the fourth quarter of 2015, the top reason for denials was because clients did not have adequate collateral.

K. Quincy Parker, Guardian Business Editor

Sandals exec defends redundancies, timing of closure

Sandals exec defends redundancies, timing of closure

Wed, Aug 31st 2016, 04:25 PM

Director of Corporate Services at Sandals Resorts International Jeremy Jones said the resort decided not to consult with the employees about what was possible with respect to their employment situation in the context of the need to close the resort for urgent repairs "because of the urgency of the situation", and he defended the decision not to lay staff off, but to make them redundant.

Jones asserted that there was no choice but to close the resort "at this stage of the game".

"Could we have delayed it? We probably could have but you never know what the impact could have been at the physical plant," he said.

On the question of whether the resort consulted with the employees regarding what was possible in this context, Jones said, "At this stage of the game, we didn't just because of the urgency of the situation. To delay may have been more detrimental to our health. We could have probably tried the option of laying off staff, but laying off staff would mean sending employees home without necessarily having a pay check to rely on."

Jones asserted that by putting a severance package in place, persons were sent with a couple of thousands dollars to help sustain them for two months.

Addressing concerns raised by the temporary closure of Sandals Royal Bahamian, which resulted in more than 600 workers being made redundant, Jones called into Guardian Talk Radio program "Connected" hosted by Lester Cox on Friday to explain the resort's actions and further discuss the fate of those employees.

Job fair
After the redundancies were announced, notice of a job fair that will be held next week Monday to Thursday sparked controversy among union leaders, adding to the public squabble.

According to Sandals, the first two days of the job fair are reserved exclusively for former employees.

Next Wednesday and Thursday are open to new applicants.

Jones explained in detail why the resort needed to close. He mentioned that an engineer's report was received by Sandals recently, which prompted a sense of urgency for the resort to renovate sooner than later.

"That facility we are looking at in Nassau is over 60 years old, and we have been operating it for 20 years and as time has gone on, we have added to the facility and we have investments to the physical structure, rooms, restaurants and bars. I think right now the infrastructure is suffering from the weight of the expansion taking place over the years.

"The engineer's report came back to us recently, especially when it came to running our pools. We were losing thousands of gallons of water a day and that is negative impact on the environment. Coupled with that is the chemical consumption that goes up...We were just getting really worried that we may be comprising the integrity of the facility. It was a tough call to make and we are in the business of operating hotels and making guests and staff happy," said Jones.

The repairs and upgrades which forced the resort's closure on August 15 are being fast-tracked at an estimated cost of $4 million and are to be completed within 14 weeks - what some in the resort call "a massive feat itself," considering the original time-frame for completion was appraised at four months.

Jones said the resort would like to reopen in time for the fall and winter business, which he added is always great business in The Bahamas.

"We really didn't have a choice at this stage of the game," he added.

"Could we have delayed it? We probably could have but you never know what the impact could have been at the physical plant."

Jones maintained that by putting a severance package in place, persons were sent with a couple of thousands dollars to help sustain them for two months.

"With good fiscal management people should be able to make ends meet over the next two months."

"That leads us to the job fair. We are going to try to find the best employees to bring back to the organization when we re-open in October.

"The training and development program that we do are pretty extensive.

"All the folks that were given a check last Monday and Tuesday, are going to come back next Monday and Tuesday to be interviewed for a job," said Jones.

Xian Smith, Guardian Business Reporter

Canon John Clarke remembered
Canon John Clarke remembered

Wed, Aug 31st 2016, 04:15 PM

'A' for amazing students
'A' for amazing students

Wed, Aug 31st 2016, 04:05 PM

The evolution of Wendi
The evolution of Wendi

Wed, Aug 31st 2016, 04:04 PM

Exuma and Andros suggested for extra MP seats

Exuma and Andros suggested for extra MP seats

Wed, Aug 31st 2016, 03:38 PM

Perry Christie

PRIME Minister Perry Christie suggested that Exuma and Andros are two islands for which the establishment of additional House of Assembly seats should be considered.

His comments came during an appearance on the “Darold Miller Live” talk show on Monday, when he was asked about the work of the Constituencies Commission, which The Tribune understands has not yet met.

“I don’t know what the Constituencies Commission, when it begins, will recommend,” Mr. Christie said.

“It’s for them to look at the size of populations, to look at places like Exuma where there’s only one seat and it’s a huge expanse of territory to cover. They have to look at all of those and balance whether in the scheme of things Andros should have an additional seat. You have Bimini with a whole population of 700 new employees working on the resorts. Questions come up. That’s the work of the Constituencies Commission. In the scheme of political things the Parliament has the final say. When you look at the history of boundaries people make changes and lose.”

Free National Movement Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest believes the Constituencies Commission should have already prepared a report on the constituency boundaries in the country and submitted it to Parliament as the country heads into an election year.

Mr. Turnquest is the Free National Movement’s representative on the committee. He will work alongside Deputy Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis and Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald, representatives of the government.

House Speaker Dr. Kendal Major will chair the commission and Senior Supreme Court Justice Stephen Isaacs is expected to serve as deputy chairman.

Although Mr. Christie announced earlier this month that the committee would soon be established, the members of the committee have not yet met.

When contacted by this newspaper, Mr. Turnquest said: “Nobody has contacted me yet,” adding that he believes a report should have already been produced.

“I understand that we’re plagued by a very low voter registry,” he said, suggesting this factor could be influencing the length of time it is taking the group to get started.

In fact, it’s not unusual for the Constituencies Commission to be activated late in the year prior to an election.

Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, for instance, announced that the commission was fully constituted and that members were appointed to it in October 2011. The next election was held in May 2012.

At the time, he expressed hope that the commission would complete its work by the first month of January.

The work of the commission has been a source of controversy in the past because of gerrymandering.

Respective Constitutional Commissions have recommended that the commission be made independent from the government and its members be offered tenure for a certain number of years.

The nature of the commission’s work is largely a secret, as the law pertaining to it does not specify in detail how members should determine the way constituencies should be composed.

Nonetheless, Mr. Turnquest said: “The members of the government will have to dictate whether additional seats are necessary. Some of the geography really does not work. But we have to come at this with a practical point of view and a financial point of view recognising that every seat is another $50,000 added to the public expenditure roll so we want to be very careful.”

By Rashad Rolle, Tribune Staff Reporter

Massachusetts officer claimed pay while on Bahamas holiday

Wed, Aug 31st 2016, 03:23 PM

A VETERAN Massachusetts police officer is facing federal charges for what authorities are calling a double-dipping scheme that defrauded the city of Quincy out of more than $10,000.

Lt. Thomas Corliss on Monday pleaded not guilty in US District Court in Boston to 12 counts of mail fraud and one count of fraud involving federal funds.

Prosecutors say the 51-year-old Corliss, among other things, collected pay while on vacation in The Bahamas, collected pay for working details and regular shifts that overlapped on multiple occasions and collected pay for 32 hours in a 22-hour period.

The 23-year-veteran, who has been suspended since September, was released with conditions and refused comment outside court.defrauded the city of Quincy out of more than $10,000.