Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Usury? :: Khaleej Times

Quote (note the interest rates stated are per month, not per year):
DUBAI — Labour camps in the emirate are fast turning into favourite hunting grounds for loan sharks, who ensnare the hapless labourers through co-workers doubling up as agents. Once caught in the net, the workers find it hard to wriggle out, very often getting deeper into the debt trap with increased borrowings to service successive loans.
. . .
These money-lenders offer three types of loans — the traditional type where money is given at a fixed interest rate ranging from 10 to 20 per cent a month, operating a 'chit' where members of the fund are given money as and when they require but they land up paying more than they are offered, and the 'advance draft,' wherein the money borrowed is sent directly to the labourer's family back in his home country.

The third option is by far the most dangerous, since the borrower has to pay back the amount borrowed plus interest in monthly instalments. "The interest rates range from 20 to 25 per cent per month," said Ganeshan, a labourer who lives in a labour camp in Al Quoz.
. . .
"Agents in India sell a visa for amounts ranging from Rs50,000 to Rs70,000. People sell properties and borrow to pay for the visa. Once here, the salary we get is Dh950, not enough to carry on after sending home to service the loan taken there after feeding the family," he said, adding: "Resultantly, most of us end up at the money-lender's door. I know several people who have not been able to go back to their countries because they have to pay back the money here and there," [a worker] said.
Compare to the U.S. experience.

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