Sunday, 9 August 2020

How does the new usury law change credit in Costa Rica?

Setting a maximum usury rate and preventing clients from getting into debt to the extent of reducing their income below the minimum wage line are some of the changes in force

(QCOSTARICA) On June 20, 2020, the Usury Law went into effect in Costa Rica after being published in the official government newsletter, La Gaceta, which establishes the methodology to be used to set the maximum interest rate, from which the crime of usury will be considered to exist.

According to the text of the law, the Central Bank of Costa Rica (Banco Central) must publish on its website, the maximum usury rates in the first week of January and July each year.

The new regulation has also changed some rules so that customers can borrow from financial institutions.

According to the new law, “No deductions may be made from the worker’s salary that affects the intangible and non-seizable minimum wage, referred to in Article 172 of Law 2, Labor Code, of August 27, 1943. This provision does not apply to (spousal) maintenance payments.”

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This also affects the availability to borrow. According to the Ministry of the Economy, (MEIC) “… If the applicant’s income, after subtracting the installments of the credits they currently hold and the amount of the credit requested, is below the minimum non-seizable salary, the loan cannot be granted.”

The current minimum is ¢199,760 colones monthly.

The Law establishes that any natural or legal person who grants a credit that does not respect the untouchable minimum wage will be subject to the sanction considered as a very serious infraction.

The law aims to eliminate overindebted, a situation that lawyer Adriana Rojas, who has handled cases involving financial consumers, and explains that this is a situation experienced mainly by public sector workers who are extended credit because they have more stable jobs, to the point that when deductions are applied in some cases all they have left is ¢5,000 of their salary.

The MEIC clarified that the law applies to new credits. “The law governs from its publication and is not retroactive. For new operations, the new Law is applied and for existing ones, the rules they had would be maintained until a new contract is negotiated.”

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