One senior banking official yesterday described former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday having a $315, 000 credit card on a $15,000 salary as "totally ridiculous."
"No one," he said, "with a salary of about $15,000 could have such a credit card because under normal circumstances, if the limit is fully drawn, it is repayable over 24 months with an interest at 1.5 to two percent per month."
He said to obtain a gold visa card with a limit as high as $315,000 the minimum salary being earned would have to be about $60,000 a month.
At $15,000 a month and considering that the card is being used to its fullest ($315,000), "Panday would have had to use his entire salary to pay the money back over 24 months," he noted.
"The entire thing is totally ridiculous," he said.
The banker's comments come in the wake of a Newsday report on Wednesday which stated that First Citizens Bank (FCB) under the chairmanship of Vishnu Ramlogan, approved a Visa Gold Card with a limit of $315,000 for Panday.
On the application form, Panday stated that he already had a Gold Visa card with RBTT. Panday applied for the FCB credit card in May 1998. In the section on the form requiring the name and address of "Panday's nearest relative not living with him," Panday named Vishnu Ramlogan. In the visa card application, Panday listed his wife, Oma Panday, as a housewife.
Asked whether he had personally approved Panday's credit card, Ramlogan said, "definitely not."
The banker, who requested anonymity, said in an application for a credit card, a bank would normally look at your debt service ratio, noting that servicing debt in relation to income should not be more than 25 percent.
At $15,000 a month, Panday, he said, should not be paying a credit debt of more than $3,750 a month.
To qualify for a $315, 000 credit card, Panday, he said, must earn nothing less than $60,000 a month.
One must also bear in mind that on any credit card, he said, there is not only the question of repaying the debt — but interest as well.
At $315,000, interest accruing on a card is about 1.5 - 2 percent per month or about 18-24 percent per annum, the banking official said.
"That's a tall order for someone making about $15,000 a month," the banker noted.
But one banker said it was rather worrying that such information should find its way into the press.
"There is a certain amount of confidentiality that clients place in their banks," she said. On Panday being given the credit card, it was pointed out that he might have had other income to substantiate his request.
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