Banks set guidelines to help and to control

 | Fri 6 Mar 2020 16:04 ICT

CityNews – 6th March 2020, COVID-19 is likely to have a large impact on small and medium-sized businesses and minor debtors, especially those involved in the tourism sector, which accounts for 10% of the GDP. Commercial banks, at the behest of the Bank of Thailand, are accelerating the implementation of new measures to replace previous standards in order to help and improve the structure of debtors to alleviate debtors’ financial status.

The first measurements were to lower the policy interest rate by 25 basis points to a historic low of 1% as well as lowering the minimum amount due on credit cards to below 10% of the outstanding balance and also to loosen requirements for personal loan credit lines for those hardest hit by the COVID-19.

Individual banks have also put out policies and guidelines such as ICBC’s exceptions to debt repayments for up to twelve months, its flexibility in increasing loans for those hard hit and its reduction of both credit card and loan repayments. Government Savings Bank is offering 50,000 baht loans to be repaid over five years and with a six month grace period before repayment for all personnel working in the tourism industry. EXIM bank is offering up to 100 million baht loan to be repaid over seven years at only two percent interest rates for the first two years for the purchase of industrial equipment. SME Development Bank is offering a 12 month relief of loan repayment and allowing for an extension of repayment for up to five years. It is also releasing loans for as low as 3% interest rates over the first five years. The Bangkok Bank says that it will reconsider most cases individually but has agreed to reduce smaller loan repayments by up to 50%. Kasikon Bank is offering similar measures but also giving up to 60% discounts off car repayment loans. SCB bank is also offering a 12 month reprieve on personal loan repayments as well as up to six months for SMEs. Most banks have some kind of assistance for those struggling in these times, so best to visit your bank for details.

Apart from debt restructuring, many banks have also announced measures concerning travel for their employees with Krung Thai Bank issuing a letter to all branches stating, “No employee is allowed to travel to or transit through China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Italy, Iran and any other country with reports of COVID-19 epidemics”. Those who violate such measures face both criminal and internal consequences, a bank manager here in Chiang Mai who wishes to remain anonymous told CityNews. She went on to say, “Many of our clients are suffering very badly now and these measurements are crucial in helping them to survive.”