One of the five commercial Banks in Barbados has sold its portfolio of overdue mortgages to a Mexican company that will be pursuing Barbadians for the money with an added charge.
Addressing a Barbados Labour Party meeting in St Philip North on Saturday night, the party leader , Mia Mottley said that the bank sold the rights to that collection of mortgages with late payments for less than 30 cents on the dollar.
“So, if the mortgage portfolio value was $300 million, they sold it for under a $100 million,” she said without giving an indication of when the transaction took place.
But she said that the Barbadians who have been behind with payments on these housing loans now have to deal with this Mexican company that wants to recover the money and, in the process, try to make an extra 20 to 30 cents on the dollar from what they’ve paid.
“So, they want to recover at least $200 million for that portfolio,” she said.
Mottley said that this should be of special concern to residents of St Philip North, “because I know that a lot of the houses that are being foreclosed upon are in new developments in St Philip”.
She blamed incumbent constituency member or parliament, Michael Lashley, along with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and Finance Minister Chris Sinckler who live in the district, for not taking action to protect the large number of Barbadians defaulting on their mortgages since 2008.
“But you have been left to the vagaries of the winds,” she said to those attending the meeting.
“It is heart-wrenching … How does a government sit idly by, not open their mouth and see that people who have lost their jobs, or people who are in strict conditions of hardship, cannot pay their mortgage and a government does not once intervene?”
Mottley said that the Government could have summoned the banks along with credit unions that give mortgages, “and say to them – as we have said to you in this manifesto that we presented – that we have a lot of troubled mortgages in this country and we need you to work with us [for an easing of conditions]
“Even if we have to create a special-purpose vehicle to acquire these mortgages.”
She cautioned that any such arrangement was not to send the wrong message to those who can pay and refuse to do so, “but you can tell by a person’s behaviour. If they have lost their job and paying and keeping their mortgage up until then, work with them”.
Mottley said that many of the St Philip North houses were built when Barbados was prospering and, “many of them are now at risk of being separated from their owners”.
She remarked that “the people of St Philip and St John have been more loyal to the Democratic Labour Party than any other part of this country, barring St Lucy,” but added that residents must be troubled by “what has been doled out to you in the last 10 years”.