Nearly half of the mortgages at the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation (BMC) are in arrears, Minister of Housing and the Environment Romauld Ferreira has disclosed.
The arrears ratio stands at 47.2 percent, which includes the corporation’s Grand Bahama portfolio, which the minister said stands at “a startling” 54.08 percent.
Ferreira said the BMC understands that given the current economic climate it would be a challenge reducing the arrears, however, he said at the very least the corporation does not want that number to increase.
“Bahamians throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas have all been impacted by what many call the double whammy, Dorian and COVID-19. The financial challenges are great. Nevertheless, the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation continues all efforts to collect outstanding amounts due,” he said during his contribution to debate on the 2020/2021 annual budget.
Ferreira said while mortgage arrears climbed, the BMC still executed 16 mortgages over the past year, totaling $1,904,643.00.
“Attracting new business and maintaining existing mortgages remains essential to the corporation’s continued financial growth and stability,” he said.
“The corporation continues to explore the process of developing its own private home construction program, through acquiring affordable vacant land and constructing affordable quality homes for purchase by Bahamians. As was done when we successfully completed the Queen’s Park Urban Redevelopment Project.”
Ferreira said the BMC, like many other institutions, was severely impacted by Hurricane Dorian last September, as it directly affected 510 clients in Grand Bahama and 131 clients in the Abacos.
“Many of the homes were severely damaged, causing millions of dollars in repairs as well as the displacement of a significant number of the homeowners,” he said.
“The good news is all the units were insured due to the corporation’s policy, to maintain homeowner insurance coverage on all of its units. To date, the Grand Bahama clients have all been assessed and the repair efforts are well over 80 percent completed. However, the Abaco islands are still experiencing challenges in the repair efforts, characterized by lack of services and the inability to find contractors.”
For the six months following Hurricane Dorian, the corporation offered payment waivers to all clients impacted by the devastating storm. Ferreira said that because of the state Abaco remains in, the corporation will extend payment waivers to customers in Abaco for another six months.