Banks and money transfer agents offer relief to customers after Gita
In the wake of Cyclone Gita, some banks and financial institutions in Tonga are making it easier for remittances coming into Tonga, or to obtain housing loans, to help people get their lives back to normal.
ANZ Tonga and Western Union are offering zero fees transfers on certain types of funds sent to Tonga for set periods of time. Bank South Pacific and ANZ are making donations. The Tonga Development Bank is offering a special housing loan program, and MBf Bank has a rebate scheme.
For those sending funds from New Zealand, ANZ Bank is offering $0 fees for international money transfers via internet banking and ANZ goMoney to families in Tonga until 31 March 2018. ANZ will also let customers impacted by Gita access their term deposits early without paying penalty fees. Business customers can restructure business loans. Fees associated with replacing EFTPOS terminals are also waived.
ANZ NZ CEO David Hisco said: “Cyclone Gita has left a path of destruction as it swept over Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga, destroying homes and vital infrastructure. These communities face major challenges in its aftermath and it will take a long time to recover. We’re there ready to offer support and do what we can for our customers. Our donation to Red Cross, and waiving fees on International Money Transfers and other banking services, will support the flow of urgently needed cash and help people start to rebuild their lives.”
Fees-free money transfers
Western Union to support communities affected by Cyclone Gita, has activated fee-free money-transfers to Tonga from sent from Australia, NZ and USA. The service applies when sending from select agents locations or through their website and the Western Union mobile app.
“Western Union stands together with its Agents and the people of Tonga in this difficult time,” said Tasko Alcevski, Western Union’s Regional Director, Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Isles. “We know first-hand – operating in more than 200 countries and territories across the globe— that cash is vital to emergency relief, as it is the most effective way to help fund basic and immediate needs,” he said.
The Bank of the South Pacific (BSP) is also offering concessions to affected customers.
Both the ANZ and BSP banks have made donations. ANZ donated $100,000 to the New Zealand Red Cross Pacific Disaster Fund to aid those affected by Gita in Tonga, American Samoa, and Samoa. The BSP donated $30,000 to Tonga Red Cross cyclone relief program.
BSP Tonga Country Head Daniel Henson when presenting the cheque to the Red Cross said, "...we believe we have a responsibility to help people in our communities and around our country. We're honoured to be able to get behind the work of Tonga Red Cross Society and support the people in this time of need,” he said.
Low interest housing loans
For people looking to rebuild their homes after Gita, Tonga Development Bank (TDB) is offering a special reconstruction housing loan with a low interest rate.
The TDB is also placing a two-month deferment on loan repayments and waiving service fees for their existing customers from 1 March to 30 April 2018.
“The moratorium on loan repayment, and service fees is our way of helping our customers. The new special reconstruction housing loan is to assist people who may need this assistance to quickly restore their houses and bring life back to normal as soon as practical.” said the TDB's Managing Director and CEO, Mrs Leta Havea Kami.
She said that the two-month deferment and waiving of service fees is available to existing borrowers.
"...as the only Bank with physical presence throughout all the island groups in Tonga, we will be working closely with our people throughout Tonga, specifically Tongatapu and 'Eua during this very difficult time,” Mrs Havea-Kami said.
The Mbf Bank's Tevita Akoteu said that over 200 customers have benefited from their post-cyclone rebate scheme. "We have given 100% rebate on processing fees from 19/2 to all customers in need to cash up immediately so that cost of repairs can be met on a timely basis," he said.