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Commercial banks soon must hand over account information to Credit Bureau

CreditInfo, Guyana’s lone licensed credit bureau, New Market Street, Georgetown.

Commercial banks will soon be required to hand over their customers’ information to the Credit Bureau to help lending institutions determine their creditworthiness and eligibility for loans, according to Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin.

After announcing the decision at the opening of Business Expo 2015 at the Sophia Exhibition Centre on Friday, November 27, 2015, he told Demerara Waves Online News that the amendment would compel the Credit Bureau to guarantee the confidentiality of customers’ account information. “The safeguard is that they cannot share this information with any bank or anyone without the consent of the consumer,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.

He said the main reason for amending the law next year was because commercial banks and other businesses were reluctant to voluntarily share information about their customers with Guyana’s lone credit bureau, CreditInfo, which has been operating here for about two years now. “They (CreditInfo) have not had the impact that they were supposed to because quite simply there has not been enough buy-in from the local banking sector,” he said.

Gaskin noted that in other countries such as Jamaica, it was now mandatory that banks provide the information to their credit bureaus and they in turn are legally barred from sharing the information with third-parties without the customers’ consent.

The Minister of Business said the amendment to Guyana’s Credit Bureau Act would make it easier for banks to determine whether they should lend applicants money. “Generally, the effect of that is to make the lending system more effective because banks then have a built-in due third party due diligence of the creditworthiness of the customer,” he said.

The Guyana Government and the Private Sector Commission (PSC) are already at loggerheads over plans to amend the law to allow for commercial banks to hand over customers’ account information to the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA).

Finance Minister, Winston Jordan has said that amendment would ensure that Guyana complies with the United States’ Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA). That  American law is aimed at tracking down US citizens and permanent residents who evade taxes by hiding their wealth in overseas accounts.