19 April 2024,   02:35
Acting President of the National Bank reported to the Parliament within the Interpellation

The Parliament heard the Acting President of the National Bank, Natia Turnava within the Interpellation. She was invited to the Parliament by the opposition MPs concerning the Liberty Bank and the loans issued to the pensioners.

The questions were addressed by Alexander Elisashvili, Teona Akubardia, Iago Khvichia, Alexander Rakviashvili, Hermann Szabo, Vakhtang Megrelishvili and Ketevan Turazashvili.

“Our questions concern the loans for the pensioners and the hazardous practice by Liberty Bank against the aged people. We, the Party “Citizens”, by cooperating with the “Georgian Dream”, achieved the agreement to reduce the interest rate from 43% and 36% to 26%, but none of the new loans by the Liberty Bank were issued with 26% interests”, - said Turazashvili.

According to her, yet another costly bank product is the so-called “overdraft”, regarding which the Liberty Bank abstains from informing the pensioners about the terms and threats related. These are the problems that touch not only the pensioners but also the IDPs and persons with disabilities who have accounts in Liberty Bank for pensions.

“How can the National Bank not respond to the gross violation of the rights of consumers? Yet another problem concerns the loans postponed due to the pandemic, the term of refund of which has been extended for a couple of years for the pensioners”.

Turnava thanked MPs for their interest in the problems of the pension loans.

“We attach high importance to the social status and living conditions of the pensioners. And the National Bank strives in this direction. The Working Group allowed the clear formulation of our approach and the accuracy of information we provide about the steps taken in this regard, we aspire to have the pensioners, applying for the loans, better informed and thus, have their rights better protected”, - she stated adding that a significant decision was made yesterday in assistance to 151 000 persons with the pension loans in reduction of the loan amount to ensure their attribution to a uniform approach that is undertaken by the Government as of January 1, 2023.

“After consulting with Prime Minister Kobakhidze, we made a decision and the Bank expressed its commitment to reduce the interest rate to the loans of 151 000 pensioners. It is a real path, which, on the one hand, will improve the social conditions of the pensioners, and on the other hand, improve their financial sustainability and increase their incomes, which is as well beneficial for the Bank to have its loyal clients financially stronger”.

She dwelt on the establishment of the responsible crediting principles and answered the questions.

According to her, adherence to the hereof principle is paramount in the process of the postponement of the refund and/or in the loan restructuring. Per her information, the hereof directive has been issued in response to the pandemic-related challenges providing the gaps in informing the consumers about the commercial banks, microfinancial organizations and other loan issuer agencies, as well as the credits and the so-called preferential periods.

“Since, according to information we hold, the users have not been preliminarily informed about the modified terms due to the preferential period and thus, they find it hard to make an informed decision; it means that based on their request, the commercial banks shall accept the payments according to the current schedule prior to the application of the preferential period. In this view, in case the banks offer the advanced refund of the part of the postponed loans, the commissions for the advanced payment shall be at a zero point”, - Turnava added.

As she elucidated, the instructions have been issued to the banks to regain the previous schedule for the pensions based on their request.

“The users now enjoy the capacity to request the restoration of the old schedule of payment existing prior to the preferential period. The realization of the hereof right requires the users to address the respective financial organization, thus, obliging the organization to act in line with the requirements established under the written instructions”.

According to Turnava, the advertising the loans/credits, including “overdrafts” ensured with the state pensions shall be prohibited without the individual consent of the pensioners. It is noteworthy that the change applies to the pensioners, the incomes of whom are determined by the state pensions and/or other social allowances solely.

The reporter underlined that the National Bank intensifies the scrutiny of the market behavior and monitoring process. In this regard, the NB undertook the thematic inquiry on remote offering and sales of financial products by the commercial banks, the outcomes of which, including regarding the vulnerable sector, may serve as the basis for the oversight procedures on the protection of the consumers’ rights.