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BCI launches relief package

Thursday 18 February 2010 | Published in Regional

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Government-owned Bank of the Cook Islands has launched a relief and rebuild package of financial support for Aitutaki.

Relief is offered in the form of a loan repayment ‘holiday’ of up to four months on principal and interest repayments to existing Aitutaki customers.

This is in acknowledgement of the extent of devastation, the community wide impact on households and businesses, and length of time it could take to rebuild after Cyclone Pat.

Loan interest rates will also be discounted by 0.5 percent for 12 months on top-up loans to existing loans or where new loans are needed.

Further general assistance will be extended including a waiver of term deposit breakage costs for those who need access to their deposits.

As families look to send money to help relatives in Aitutaki, the bank will also waive money transfer fees for money sent from Rarotonga or any other island to Aitutaki.

The bank is providing a fee-free transactional account for the Aitutaki community based in Rarotonga for the easy collection of fundraising monies and distribution to the island.

“As the “people’s bank” we hope this direct assistance will go some way to lifting the spirits of our families in Aitutaki,” said BCI yesterday.

In the meantime, BCI says its board of directors, management and staff recognise that their ‘brothers and sisters’ in Aitutaki now face an enormous challenge as they rebuild their livelihoods in the wake of the devastation caused by Cyclone Pat. BCI says its rebuild package is extended to encourage the Aitutaki community to rebuild and face the challenge.

“Despite forewarning, no one could have predicted the level of damage sustained in Aitutaki, and no one can ever be fully prepared for any natural disaster.

Our thoughts are with everyone in the Aitutaki community affected by the cyclone.

BCI customers and staff have been affected and Rarotonga based staff have been in full support mode and on the ground since Friday last week to ensure our customers had access to cash as needed and most especially someone to talk to, to assure them of our support in what ever way we can,” said BCI managing director Vaine Nooana-Arioka.

BCI special projects administrator Tangata Tou has been on the island of Aitutaki since the weekend, visiting BCI customers, conducting assessments and preparing for the relief assistance package.

BCI reminds customers that normal loan approval procedures still apply and other features of the package can be explained in further detail by any BCI loans officer.

The bank is the second to announce a relief package – ANZ Bank’s new concessions for Aitutaki customers were launched on Monday.

ANZ will provide such concessions, on a case by case basis, as waiving fees for restructuring business loans or new lending, and interest-only repayments for business and personal loans for up to three months.

Finance minister Wilkie Rasmussen stated this week that government is looking at how it can encourage the trading banks to provide concessions for Aitutaki customers during the island’s recovery from the impacts of the cyclone. - HG