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Jamaica News - Real Estate - General (Sept 16, 2004)
NCB offers loans for disaster recovery 
NATIONAL Commercial Bank (NCB) has launched a $150 million loan facility to help Jamaicans rebuild property damaged by Hurricane Ivan.

Concessionary interest rates of 16.25 per cent to 18.25 per cent will be charged, said Michael Lee-Chin, chairman of NCB. He was speaking at a press conference at the bank's New Kingston headquarters yesterday where the new loan facility was introduced.

"We have a responsibility to help those who are in need," Mr. Lee-Chin said. Hurricane Ivan has left severe damage across the island in the wake of its weekend rampage.

The loans, "will be available to homeowners and farmers who can borrow between $25,000 and $350,000," Mr. Lee-Chin said. Borrowers will have 48 months for repayment and the interest rate charged will be below base rate. The facility will run up to October 31 of this year.

"The base rate is the lowest rate for our customers who present cash as collateral for their loans," said Aubyn Hill, managing director of NCB. "But these are not normal times, and so we want to help out."

Courtney Campbell, head of retail banking, stated, "For persons who give their title as collateral, they will pay 16.25 per cent and persons who assign their salary to us will pay 18.25 per cent. This is an effective rate. No other commercial bank is offering these rates." NCB will also forego all fees relating to the loans. Mr. Hill said, "We are waiving all fees, no funny fees charged like other banks." In order for homeowners and farmers to access this loan facility, proof of need will be required and NCB will deploy staff to view the damage to homes and farms.

"We will visit the locations to assess the damage," Mr. Hill said. "We have redirected staff from head office and branches plus we will hire contract staff to help us with this."

Applicants are being encouraged to make the process as simple as possible, Mr. Hill said. "Pictures, contractor estimates and the like will help us process the loan faster. In fact, with all paperwork in front of us, the loan can be approved in 36 hours."

Mr. Hill said principal repayments would be waived for the first three months of the loan.

As an additional bonus, Mr. Campbell said, "Existing NCB customers who have paid off their loans automatically qualify for the loan because they have a good credit history with us."

On Monday NCB had launched a separate initiative to help hurricane victims. The NCB disaster relief fund aims to disburse $350 million.

'The loans will be available to homeowners and farmers who can borrow between $25,000 and $350,000.'

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