MINSK, 9 September (BelTA) – The draft decree on creating a full-fledged financial counseling institution in Belarus was one of the focuses of Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko's meeting with members of the Council of Ministers on 9 September, BelTA has learned.
“As I have been told, it is high time we come to grips with various kinds of consultants. With absolute impunity, unscrupulous brokers (dubbed black and gray brokers) cash in on the elderly and even on quite progressive young people,” the head of state said.
He explained that the National Bank wants to encourage the creation of an institution of consultants. “I don't mind it. A good idea. Yet, what they suggest is (as least, it looks so at the first glance) opening some offices where bankers will advise our people what bank to apply to, what loans to take, and so on. Who will go to these offices to get a consultation? Gerasimov? [Chairman of the State Control Committee]. No. Young people? No. Educated people, journalists? No,” the president said.
According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, the groups of people he listed are able to find the necessary information without consultants, because this information is available on the Internet. Accordingly, the services of such institutions will primarily be used by people with low incomes, including pensioners. “They will want to get a consultation if we open such offices. Will these consultations be free of charge? They will not. Is it fair? We are building a state that serves the interests of people. Starting from the Soviet times we have been providing some of such services for free. Banks are interested in providing such services as it will help them get new borrowers. This will be one more instrument bankers will use to rip people off. Our bankers are so ‘poor'. This raises red flags with me. Therefore, I sent back this document and submitted it for discussion,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
“Once again: I support counseling as such. But why take money for this? Well, those people who will consult are not poor. Who do we want to give this opportunity to profiteer from our people ?” the head of state asked point-blank.
He cited an example of unscrupulous consultants. Pensioners from Brest planned to take out a loan and build a country house, turned to an intermediary who convinced them that the bank would not lend money without a ‘consultant'. “This is where it will lead to. They will open an office, and a bank will send people to a consultant in order to earn on this and perhaps to divide this money later. We already know this from the healthcare system. People who needed a joint replacement were advised by doctors to get medical products from a particular buyer. As a result, 30 people went to prison,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The head of state continued the story about pensioners from Brest. They were asked to pay a thousand rubles for a consultation, and sometimes fees are even higher. “They went to the bank and got a loan without any problems. It turned out they did not need any intermediaries. So this crook started extorting money from them for ‘a service' that was not in fact provided. They scared the pensioners so much that they even brought the received loan back to the bank and didn't want to have anything to do with it anymore,” Aleksandr Lukashenko shared the details.
“And the police can't help. After all, everything is in line with a contract! In other words, they take money from people, a lot of money, for printing out information from the Internet, which is available to everyone. Then they shove an unconscionable contract for their pseudo-services. Filling their pockets, they do not bear any responsibility and do not guarantee that the banking product they have selected will really be available to those who apply for it,” the head of state said.
Moreover, there are situations when a person, having paid a considerable amount for such a consultation, goes to the bank being sure that he/she will receive a loan but the loan application is rejected, because the bank has its own procedures and requirements. As a result, this person is left without the loan he/she was counting on, and even loses money. “This will not do! Therefore, if you want to open such offices, their services should be free of charge!” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
He demanded a detailed report on how this area of business should be regulated, what guarantees a person receives when turning to financial consultants, and whether banks will take money for this kind of counseling. After all, such services should be provided free of charge, the Belarusian leader is sure.