Today’s news that the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten (CBCS) amended the annual percentage rate (APR) is quite interesting. It regards all costs charged for credit.
The move is intended to protect consumers against what the bank’s 2016 research said were “abusive rates” of an average 437 per cent and up to more than 3,500 per cent in the micro-lending business, and to bring these more in line with international, European Union (EU) and Dutch Kingdom standards. The maximum APR is 14 per cent in the Netherlands and 23 per cent in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (the BES islands).
The Joint Court of Justice had also ruled in an Aruban case that charging anything more than18 per cent was “immoral.” The practice often leads to financial distress, which can slow real economic growth as well.
Taking into account the possible impact on the lenders involved, but also their clients and the economy, in terms of less credit being available or at changed conditions, CBCS chose what it called a cautious approach by setting the maximum APR at 27 per cent at least for now. However, as the bank recognises, cooperation is needed between CBCS, Government and the Prosecutor’s Office to prevent an undesirable shift to the informal loan sector.