Debtors hardest hit during Covid-19 circuit breaker
SINGAPORE - More debt-stricken individuals struggled to pay off their loans at the start of the pandemic and during the circuit breaker, said debt management companies.
In April, when the circuit breaker kicked in, non-profit organisation Credit Counselling Singapore (CCS) said it saw about 800 existing clients under its debt management programme requesting further assistance as they could not commit to their monthly repayment arrangements with banks.
The number of requests fell to about 170 in June, once phase one started, but it was still twice as high compared with ordinary times, said CCS general manager Tan Huey Min.
CCS总经理谭慧敏(Tan Huey Min)表示，一旦第一阶段开始，6月份的请求数量就下降到了约170份，但仍是平时的两倍。
Last year, the organisation received about 90 such requests every month, she said.
"To help our clients affected by the pandemic, we approached banks and proposed special repayment arrangements to lower their monthly instalments during this period," added Ms Tan.
Debt management and solution company EDUdebt saw a 300 per cent increase in its number of clients between January and March this year, compared with the same period last year, said the company's chief executive, Mr Abbas Hamzah.
债务管理和解决方案公司EDU Debt的首席执行官阿巴斯·哈姆扎(Abbas Hamzah)表示，与去年同期相比，该公司今年1-3月的客户数量增加了300%。
"The main reason for the increase is due to the recession, loss of employment, over-leveraging on loan capabilities and the lack of adequate savings to prepare for any unforeseen circumstances," added Mr Hamzah.
Ms Tan said debtors were hardest hit during the circuit breaker when many business activities, especially in the service sector, came to a standstill.
This affected those working in the food sector, clubs and shopping centres, and also Grab drivers, she said.
In March, bankruptcy applications reached 462, the highest in more than 15 years, exceeding those during the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009, which were between 200 and 300.