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Bush: “I am not a money tree. I can’t pay $5,000 mortgages for people”

Premier McKeeva Bush will seek an early September start for a new interest-free mortgage assistance programme, lending money to troubled homeowners in danger of bank foreclosures.

Similar to his 2009 Cayman Islands Development Bank lending programme, which distributed $4 million to small businesses and homeowners at a 1.5% interest rate, Mr Bush said yesterday that the new $2.5 million plan would offer interest-free loans to homeowners in arrears.

It remained unclear, however, whether funding would come through the Development Bank or the government itself.

“I’m not too sure whether it will come through the bank or the finance department,” he said. “I am still discussing it with the relevant departments, but I will talk to my finance people.

“We are hoping to get it done by September 1st, although that is not a set date. We are just shooting for that,” Mr Bush said.

The premier announced the plan at a Thursday meeting in West Bay to discuss the “ForCaymanAlliance” investment programme with Dart Realty, which has provisionally agreed to a $1.2 billion roster of infrastructure, development and community welfare projects in exchange for a series of land concessions and duty waivers by government.

In his opening speech, the premier, declaring, “I believe in getting something done”, said he would inaugurate a mortgage-assistance programme aimed at homeowners in danger of foreclosure.

“We will assist this group of people to clear off their arrears,” he told a crowd of more than 100 at the John A Cumber School auditorium.

“We are hoping to jump start this at the end of the month,” he said, promising more information as plans developed.

“Banks are stepping in, and the courts are facilitating that. There are people we have to help. People are losing their homes and we don’t have the money to do much.

“We did about $5 million through the Development Bank, but now people with only $40,000 and $30,000 and $25,000 left are losing their homes and we need to do something.”

Speaking to iNews yesterday, Mr Bush said he could not estimate how many people might qualify, but many had come
to him for help.

“Just as other representatives, I and others have been approached by various individuals having difficulty. I have tried to help a lot of people over the years.

“I am not a money tree. I can’t pay $5,000 mortgages for people. I am on a salary, like others, and I cannot do it all myself, so we are trying to help people in various ways,” he said.

Still working out details, Mr Bush added “I would imagine people would need proper documentation from their bank, detailing how much is owed on a loan, how much the debt it is, how long to pay.

“I envisage we will lend up to $1,500, and they [borrowers] can take between 10 years and 12 years to pay the government back. It is an interest-free loan, so payments will not be that great, will be minuscule, so people can
afford them.”



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