Struggling borrowers can apply for payment holidays

30 March 2020 | Banking

OGONE TLHAGE

WINDHOEK

Bank customers will be able to apply for payment holidays, the Bank of Namibia (BoN) announced last week.

This is being done to resuscitate an already flagging economy amidst the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen lodges, airlines, and other services deemed non-essential shut down.

“The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the global economy, resulting in a slowdown in economic activity worldwide and major disruptions in global supply chains,” the central bank said.

“In respect of customers of banking institutions, banks can grant a loan payment moratorium or so-called payment holiday whereby the holiday in respect of loan payment is allowed for a period ranging from six months up to 24 months based on a thorough assessment of the economic and financial difficulties by individual borrowers.”

The central bank urged financial institutions to apply their decisions in a fair and equitable manner.

A helping hand was also extended to small and medium-sized enterprises and corporations, with the central bank introducing cash-flow relief measures that would make it easier for banks to lend to these businesses.

“The bank has decided to relax the determination on liquidity risk management whereby banking institutions are required to ensure that their cash inflows match the cash outflows expected within zero to seven days. The limit has been relaxed such that the expected outflows may not exceed the inflows, but not more than the excess liquidity above their regulatory limit,” the central bank said.

Commercial banks have further been encouraged to reduce their buffers to 0% for at least 24 months.

“The capital conservation buffer will enable banking institutions to use the capital they have built up during good times, to use during times of distress. The release of the buffer is to allow banking institutions to boost an already distressing economy by lending to the most vulnerable economic sectors,” the central bank said.

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