Banks lend depositors’ money, not their own

The extent to which banks have been supportive of the mortgage market is clearly evidenced by the increase in lending for house purchases to no less than €4.3 billion as at February 2017

28 April 2017, 7:37am
Banks have a legal obligation to ensure, before approving a loan facility, that the customer has the means to repay such loan
Banks have a legal obligation to ensure, before approving a loan facility, that the customer has the means to repay such loan
We refer to the interview with ReMax’s CEO, Kevin Buttigieg, by Raphael Vassallo and published in your newspaper on 9 April.

In his comments, Mr Buttigieg made sweeping statements regarding banks’ services to property buyers who approach them for a loan. We are surprised at such comments from a leading participant in a market which has grown throughout the years with the active and consistent backing of the banking industry, and we would have wished Mr Buttigieg to engage constructively with the industry to raise any relevant issues which may warrant discussion.

The extent to which banks have been supportive of the mortgage market is clearly evidenced by the increase in lending for house purchases to no less than €4.3 billion as at February 2017 – up by almost 50% over the past five years from €2.9 billion in February 2012. This has been achieved in a cautious and responsible manner, which Mr Buttigieg may view as being unduly bureaucratic.

It bears reiterating, however, that banks are lending depositors’ money, not their own funds, and must ensure that the risks they take when lending are reasonable and acceptable.

Moreover, banks have a legal obligation to ensure, before approving a loan facility, that the customer has the means to repay such loan. Banks take this responsibility very seriously, and their prudent approach ensures that customers only borrow sums of money which they can afford to repay.

James Bonello, Secretary General, Malta Bankers’ Association

Good Friday processions

A young Maltese priest wrote in a local newspaper that Good Friday processions “have gradually been transformed into exhibitions of power, vanity and self-affirmation”.

He could have gone one step further and said that these supposedly religious processions have been transformed into spectacles and shows, featuring Roman soldiers dressed to the hilt in their “Sunday best”, including gold breastplates and flamboyant red plumes – on their way to a grim crucifixion. The rear of the procession is brought up by barefoot “penitents”, dragging heavy chains and wearing hoods.

The priest wrote that there is an “exodus of hundreds of Maltese” to Protestant faith groups because they are angered and scandalised by these so-called “manifestations of faith”. In fact, Protestant Christians discarded these idolatrous displays centuries ago.

The last time I attended a Good Friday procession was at Rabat in 1969. Some friends urged me to go with them. The procession was slow and tedious. Every 15 minutes or so, a kitschy statue, with contorted limbs and a lachrymose face, came into view. The aesthetic horrors of Maltese devotional “art” were gradually revealed.

I was so bored that I prayed to God: “Please, take me out of this backward country!” And God heard my prayer. A few months later I was on my way to a four-year stay in the United States, where so-called “Good Friday” is just another working day.

John Guillaumier, St Julian’s

Politicians must reflect Catholic faith

Fr. J. Bernard S.J. used to tell his seminarian students that God will not punish us for our trespasses but for the things we should have done and did not.

English novelist Anna Sewell also wrote that “My doctrine is this, that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt.”

This is the yardstick with which we should evaluate and select our future parliamentarians. We do not need political leaders who regard our Catholic religion as no longer central to cultural activity and do not instil more appreciation of the local Church’s role.

Maltese Catholic electorate please wake up and smell the coffee.

John Azzopardi, Zabbar