RESPONSE TO THE STATEMENT OF AN SDP MP RAŠKO KONJEVIĆ


23/03/2020

In this challenging time, when our country and the whole world is facing perhaps the most significant crisis, we expect everyone to contribute to the remarkable efforts that our country is making. Thus, we intend not to deny a populist statement, but merely to present facts and support an attempt to reduce the adverse impact of the crisis on citizens and the economy. Working very intensively with the entire Central Bank of Montenegro (CBCG) team, the CEOs of banks without a break and in continuity, and with the state authorities, we have done a tremendous job that people of knowledge and profession should only praise.


Governor Žugić neither deceived his citizens nor his team, to quote: “During the extended loan repayment period, instalments (interest plus principal) that were in a standstill (the moratorium) will be regularly charged... The calculation is done according to the contracted conditions that should not be aggravated during the moratorium, which will be subject to due control of the CBCG... During the moratorium, nothing will be charged, while interest and principal are calculated according to the loan agreement terms.”


This truly reflects the spirit of the CBCG team’s elaboration available to the entire public.


Thus, those wishing good to both the citizens and economy see no deception or falsity here.


The CBCG Council’s decision is quite clear by itself, yet we wrote additional instruction for the public’s sake.


We did not expect the need to explain the term moratorium to experts, especially to someone who was the Minister for Finance. This is, obviously, cheap populism at very challenging times.


Moreover, other jurisdictions implement the moratorium identically, except those in Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, where the moratorium depends on commercial banks’ decisions. Only Serbia and Montenegro have introduced the obligation to comply with the moratorium at the client’s request, and banks have to enforce it.


You are deeply wrong about the banking sector’s solidarity. With this measure, banks gave up a quarter of the liquid assets inflow, and everyone expects banks to continue lending to the corporate and retail sectors.


This measure aims at increasing the economy’s and the population’s disposable income. This is particularly important to citizens with reduced or lost salary, and to legal entities already distressed by the current situation’s results. The banks’ responsibility is also seen through simplified communication with clients with a phone call, complying with the state authorities’ recommendations of keeping social distance, through giving up of income fees for e-banking and for withdrawing money from ATMs. Administrative costs for the moratorium implementation and any costs arising from the annex to the collateral agreement were transferred to the banks.


The comparison of measures among the countries of the region shows that Montenegro’s financial system is currently implementing one of the most comprehensive and strong support measures through the Decision on interim measures to mitigate adverse effects of the new Coronavirus disease on the financial system adopted by the CBCG Council on 18 March 2020. Banks are obliged to accept a moratorium on repayment of loans up to 90 days for individuals and legal entities (loan users) who wish to exercise this right. This type of support is currently a real privilege for the liquidity position of citizens and businesses, compared to the current financial markets’ offer to the citizens and economies of Macedonia, Croatia, Albania, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina who still can not count on this volume of support (the right to a loan repayment moratorium).


Moreover, the recently adopted decision of the CBCG also considered the long-term impact of the crisis, especially concerning the new liquidity pumping. With the new Decision, banks are able to restructure loans to legal and natural persons affected by the Coronavirus, adapting loans to new conditions. To relax the banks in the process, the CBCG decided to consider these loans as newly approved loans, relaxing the banks’ expenses on provisions. The CBCG announces further incentives to release a part of the reserve requirement, which amounts to over 250 million euros, which would allow banks to continue lending to citizens and businesses with the current level of liquidity of around 1 billion euros.


We leave to the public to judge who is misleading the public, the CBCG Governor or you, who make cheap political statements counting on getting cheap political points.