Saudi Arabia's consumer loans hit 'worrying' levels
Consumer loans increased 24.4 percent in the first quarter of 2013 compared to SR247 billion in the same period in 2012 to reach SR307 billion.
Interestingly, home loans stood at SR38.4 billion while SR59.3 was borrowed to purchase vehicles in the first quarter of this year.
The volume of consumer loans has increased and so has the sufferings of citizens who have taken out such loans. We have to exercise extreme care when borrowing.
A countless number of citizens have already been caught in debt traps after they had failed to pay off their loans.
The sheer volume of consumer loans is a real cause for concern because it indicates the absence of logic on the part of borrowers. Banks make huge profits from giving out such loans. It is safer for them because they can deduct the installments directly from salaries each month until the loan has been paid off.
Undoubtedly, high living costs and static salaries have contributed to the increase in such loans.
Many are having difficulty paying their children’s tuition fees and home rent after meeting day-to-day necessities. This is especially true of limited-income families.
Despite the increased costs of living, one has to be wary of loans. It is wise to borrow to buy a home, a piece of land or a vehicle. These are necessities, but taking out loans to travel abroad for a vacation and to purchase a fancy watch, a luxury car or a set of gold bracelets is something ill-advised.
Getting a loan has never been so easy like today. You can apply for one from the comfort of your home using the Internet. Banks and financial institutions are everywhere and they are competing to lure customers.
While it is true that the government cannot prevent citizens from applying for loans, it can, however, raise public awareness about the dangers of such loans and falling prey to banks and financial institutions that care about nothing but profits.
The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), in particular, should embark on such a mission and encourage citizens to think twice before taking out consumer loans.
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