In the face of the current economic downturn, a growing number of Barbadians are defaulting on their debts.
However, Grady Clarke, director of the Caribbean Credit Bureau Ltd (CCBL), reported today that the situation had not yet reached a crisis level, with “a large majority” of Barbadians still making the effort to pay their bills on a timely basis.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY after a special service at the St Patrick’s Cathedral in Jemmotts Lane, St Michael, to mark the bureau’s 20th anniversary, Clarke did not have actual figures to hand, but said: “You will be surprised that we still find that in Barbados the majority of people still do pay their bills.
“Yes, you are finding more delinquency now because of economic conditions, but at least we have a better credit infrastructure. So you would not see our economy going totally bust, or having a big credit crisis like what we had in the United States,” he added.
“We have our problems here, but certainly in terms of our credit infrastructure, we have access to credit,” Clarke said. The credit bureau, which started operations in Barbados
in November, 1993, did so at a time when there were no formally recognized credit bureaus in the Caribbean and consumers were denied the right to investigate their credit files and dispute any incorrect entries.
Operating back then as Credi-Check, the agency saw the need to address this and developed a plan for its operations within the region. Along with credit reporting, CCBL provides training and consultation services throughout the English- speaking Caribbean, offering value-added credit management services and advocates for the spread of financial literacy
Clarke said although its work is often understimated, Barbadians now have easier access to credit with better terms as a direct result of the bureau’s growth and development over the past two decades.
“We have had our challenges to expand out of Barbados because of the high cost to travel throughout the region. But in Barbados, we have provided a very high level of credit service, which is now being copied in other markets. So we have led the way. “I travel a lot throughout the various islands and some of the poor people in particular have difficulty accessing credit but here in Barbados you get a chance.
“Of course, if you don’t pay your bills then you have difficulty, but if you pay your bills then even the poor person here gets easy access to credit. If you don’t pay your bills, then you can’t get credit from Peter if you don’t pay Paul,” he pointed out.
Clarke also revealed that CCBL was currently in the process of forming a partnership with European Company Credit Info, which would allow the bureau to engage in a higher standard of operation.
“By joining a large European company we will now be able to take our goodwill, our knowledge about Caribbean Credit Bureau operations and our local financial markets to use with
the experience of our partner to help the other islands around us to have the same type of credit infrastructure we have in Barbados,” he said.