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Soft SAMA loans for companies to pay salaries, says Al-Khulaifi
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 30 - 03 - 2020

RIYADH — Ahmed Al-Khulaifi, governor of Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), announced that repayment of installments of banking loans will be postponed for all those who lose their jobs due to the direct or indirect impact of coronavirus crisis.
"Delaying repayment of individual loan installments from various financing products is permissible as long as the job is lost due to the current circumstances. The beneficiaries include individual borrowers as well as those who engage in their own free trade, and they have to submit a request in this regard to banks," Al-Khualifi clarified in an interview with Al-Arabiya net.
Al-Khulaifi said SAMA supported providing interim soft loans to companies in order to pay salaries. He appreciated the position of Saudi banks in this regard with their cooperation in the stimulus packages launched by the central bank to withstand the effects caused by the preventive measures against coronavirus.
The central bank chief stressed the strength of the financial position of the Saudi banking sector and its ability to serve Saudi economy in these circumstances. He attributed this ability to the precautionary and control measures pursued by SAMA.
"The world's economies are passing through a critical period and there is a need to support large companies and small and medium sectors," he said underlining the need to support enterprises through supporting individuals, business continuity, and payment of salaries.
"We have provided soft interim loans that extend up to six months, and we have focused on those who lose their jobs these days with inclusion of postponement of installments payment of various financing products," he said.
Al-Khulaifi said the goal of SAMA measures is to reduce the burden of economic impacts of coronavirus crisis on business establishments, describing what was announced on Sunday by the central bank as an expansion and addition to a previous package that targeted medium, small and micro enterprises due to their inability to bear with the fallout of the crisis.
Therefore the package was instant to cover all the private sector enterprises. The governor said that the latest package from SAMA comes in a more comprehensive and general way and there are precautionary measures to ease burden on banks with giving them additional operating capacity, as well as serving the interests of customers with procedures that support working capital, protecting employment, and give enterprises the opportunity to restructure loans without extra charge.
Al-Khulaifi appreciated the banks' cooperation in implementing these support packages. "All CEOs of banks extended their active cooperation with the procedures taken during a recent meeting with them," he said.
On Sunday, SAMA said it has instructed local banks to restructure financing for customers without extra fees as well as to provide financing needed by customers who lose their jobs. The central bank said banks should review interest and other fees levied on credit cards in line with the recent drop in interest rates. The guidelines are part of measures aimed at stemming the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, it said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.
SAMA pledged support to bank customers who lose their jobs as a result of the coronavirus crisis and offered financial support for any ensuing charges.
The central bank instructed that rates will be preserved by providing necessary support to individual customers who have lost their jobs in the private sector, and that all customers shall be exempted from e-transaction fees, minimum balance fees and from any fees imposed on refinancing operations or on terminating existing agreements for a period of at least six months.
"The steps taken include supervisory measures and their precautionary policies to counter the effects of the coronavirus. This aims to support banks at the present time and help them focus on providing the best banking services to their customers to meet their financial needs."
The central bank emphasized that it was important for banks to support their customers through various means so that they can withstand the impact of the epidemic as well as to support the private sector to mitigate the effects of a drop in cash flow.

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