The New Paper, 4 June 2019
Many debtors want to honour and repay their debts, but they need help to discharge off their debt obligations
More often than not, debts are seen as personal problems — a matter one prefers not to talk about, let alone discuss with a stranger. But a weekly gathering is changing that perception.
Credit Counselling Singapore (CCS) has been conducting free public talks to assist debt-distressed individuals since 2004.
“Many debtors want to honour and repay their debts, but they need help to discharge off their debt obligations,” says Ms Tan Huey Min, Head of Agency at CCS, highlighting the bridging role played by CCS.
“In the early 2000s, when a borrower could not make payment, the banks would resort to taking legal actions if reminder calls and letters produced no results.
“Instead of going for the legal route to collect back the debts, State Courts planned to find an alternative way to create a win-win situation for all concerned.” This paved the way to introduce credit counselling to debt-distressed individuals as an intervention before bankruptcy action is taken against them. CCS was set up as a non-profit organisation in 2004 and has been working with banks and financial institutions such as credit card companies, to facilitate unsecured debt repayment owed by individuals.
In mid 2006, CCS, a registered charity and a member of National Council of Social Service, received a formal endorsement from The Association of Banks in Singapore.
CCS provides a holistic look at every borrower’s financial problem before proposing a monthly installment plan that allows suitable individuals to gradually repay his debts – the principal amount with moderated interest charges and over a reasonable period of time – to all his creditors.
“To resolve a debt situation effectively, we need to be able to address all the debt obligations comprehensively,” explains Ms Tan. This process helps the borrower to determine his repayment capacity, and identify the most appropriate solution.
“For those who can work out a repayment plan, they can see light at the end of the tunnel,” explains Ms Tan. “For those who are unable to work out a repayment arrangement, they would also have a clearer picture of their financial situation and options.”
“The borrower tends to be able to better focus on their work and do well in their career. They can also begin to work to mend their broken relationships and keep the family intact. Lastly, they would gain back a sense of control and dignity, and become a positive and productive member of society again.”