Days after the tourism sector requested an extension in the assessments on the payment capacity, which must be carried out by the financial entities of the debtors, the Central Bank of Costa Rica the legal and regulatory conditions are already in force.
This was explained by the President of the Central Bank of Costa Rica, Rodrigo Cubero, who also urged companies in this industry to opt for loans in colones. “It is not necessary to change the laws, it is not necessary to change the regulation. Ultimately, it is an exercise that financial intermediaries have with their clients”, said the official adding that the regulatory space and resources have been sufficient for financial institutions to reach conclusions about the true payment capacity of their clients.
“I would like to join the exhortation for the tourist industry to consider the colonization of its credits (to pass them to colones). There is no reason why you can’t. The fact that their income is in dollars, to a large extent, does not prevent them from taking loans in colones,” Cubero added.
The official reasoned that, in this way, the sector could take advantage of the favorable conditions that loans in national currency are currently offering to get out of the current crisis, which he acknowledged has been “massive.”
For example, the contraction experienced by hotels and restaurants, only during 2020, was 40.7%, according to estimates by the Central Bank. “There is no doubt about the impact the industry has had,” Cubero stressed.
For his part, the general manager of the National Bank, Bernardo Alfaro, affirmed that the guidelines given by the National Council for the Supervision of the Financial System (Conassif), last week, allow them to make the conditions more flexible during the coming months.
“They made two very relevant provisions. The first is that until December 31, 2021, the necessary adjustments, arrangements, extensions or adjustments can be made, without implying that the operation is classified as “special credit.” We can keep making adjustments.
“The other very important provision is that, previously, the payment capacity of a debtor was measured with a horizon of one year. Now, it is allowing it to be measured throughout the life of the loan,” argued Alfaro. This last measure would allow banks to continue classifying the sector’s defaulters in a lower risk category, which allows them to continue serving them.
The official highlighted that, of the client portfolio that the National Bank has in the tourism industry, more than 80% had readjustments and, in several cases, grace periods “on principal”, up to 12 months.
“We have given them enough slack to help them recover and if we have to extend that even more, we will do it. The last thing we want is, in some way, to attack what I call the goose that lays the golden eggs. The tourism sector is fundamental for the Costa Rican economy”, he highlighted.
Last Friday, the two main chambers of the tourism industry highlighted that the guideline, from Conassif, left out the most important aspect. And it is that, as of next March 31, financial institutions will apply, once again, evaluations on the payment capacity of debtors.
For the president of the National Chamber of Tourism (Canatur), Rubén Acón, the problem is that said analysis would not be based on the history, prior to the Pandemic. It would only take into account your current situation, the representative explained.
For his part, the President of the Costa Rican Chamber of Hotels, Javier Pacheco, insisted that it is necessary to develop programs that are congruent with the recovery of the industry. “Let’s do a project for the next three years and if the economic reactivation comes before, thanks to the necessary support, the aid can be eliminated. Otherwise the sector will not leave,” he said.