Agribank offers lifelines

The bank has set up a 'war room' at its head office where branches can immediately refer issues or queries they cannot resolve.

15 May 2019 | Agriculture

Agribank is offering relief on both arrears and instalments for the current year, as well as drought relief loans.

It will also add two years to the loan periods of clients in order to give farmers more time to repay their remaining amounts.

Agribank CEO Sakaria Nghikembua said this is aimed at helping and supporting farmers that are suffering during the ongoing drought.

“Clients wishing to make use of this relief effort would be required to sign an agreement with the bank. The capitalisation of the remaining arrears and the credit bureau delisting will be effected once the agreed payment, 45% of the arrears, has been made,” he said.

Similarly, clients who anticipate that they will not be able to settle their annual instalments in full for the current year, will be required to settle 60% of the instalments due, with the remaining 40% being capitalised.

“As with the arrears payment, an additional two years will be added to the client's loan period to make payments more affordable over time,” Nghikembua said.

The bank has further said it recognises that clients may not be able to pay the required 45% of arrears in one go, so they can pay off this amount in manageable portions until 30 September this year. Nghikembua added that clients who may have difficulty meeting the payment requirements are encouraged to make contact with their nearest branch to discuss possibilities, adding that the bank is committed to ensuring that all clients who wish to take up the offer are assisted after consultations.

He emphasised that no client should be turned away in terms of the arrears and instalment payment relief option, but that the client and the bank should engage where peculiar client circumstances exist.

The bank has set up a 'war room' at its head office where branches can immediately refer issues or queries they cannot resolve.



Drought relief loans

Nghikembua said further that drought relief loans will be offered to clients who have fulfilled the payment relief requirements and can be used for various drought-related needs, such as the purchasing of fodder, the drilling of boreholes or the rehabilitation of boreholes or other water infrastructure; and for adaptive income streams such as wood and charcoal production and bush-to-feed equipment.

According to him clients who qualify for the drought relief loans will receive a one-year grace period before they start with their repayments. The repayment periods for the loans after the grace period, as well as the interest rates charged, will be in line with the existing product terms of the bank.

“We are facing challenging times for both our clients and the bank. We want both to survive.

“We are trying to balance so many considerations to ensure our clients receive some scope to make it through this difficult period.

“We certainly wish we could do more, but resources are limited. For the bank, our main source of funds is loan repayments by our clients.

“This means that total repayment relief is unfortunately not an option at this stage. But we believe we have done our best to assist our clients,” Nghikembua said.

He they will maintain a flexible approach in our discussions with each client.

“Given the urgency of the situation we have set up a 'war room' to deal with peculiar cases or queries which the branches might not be able to immediately deal with. This team will meet regularly to consider any such requests from the branches and provide feedback within 36 hours,” he added.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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