700 firms seek subsidised loans to avoid layoffs: SBP

KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) said on Monday that around 700 companies have forwarded applications for the cheaper loans under central bank’s policy to save employees being sacked from their jobs amid coronavirus lockdown.
The central bank said that so far, the commercial banks have deferred loans of Rs236 billion for a year, in line with the SBP’s guidelines due to suspension of economic activities in the country.
Currently the banks are reviewing 5,126 applications of the loans deferment, the State Bank of Pakistan said.
The State Bank of Pakistan on April 11 launched a refinancing scheme to save hundreds and thousands of jobs in the private sector by providing cheaper loans to businesses at 4 to 5 per cent for payment of wages and salaries.
The SBP said the scheme has been designed to benefit small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Earlier, in order to strengthen the health sector in the fight against the deadly virus, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on Friday last enhanced the maximum financing limit per hospital or medical centre under its refinance scheme from Rs200 million to Rs500 million.
According to a series of tweets by the SBP, a single hospital or medical centre can now acquire up to Rs500 million worth of loans under its Refinance Facility for Combating COVID -19 (RFCC). Previously, the financing limit was Rs200 million.
“The RFCC is an emergency funding facility to support hospitals/medical centres to develop their capacities for treatment of infected patients of COVID-19,” the central bank said, adding the financing under this facility is being made available by the State Bank at zero per cent to banks that can charge a maximum rate of 3 per cent per annum.
The State Bank has been continuously improving features of this facility to ensure timely financial support to hospitals and medical centres engaged in combating COVID-19.
So far, the SBP said, financing of Rs2.2 billion for 11 hospitals/ medical centres has been approved whereas financing requests of Rs 3.6 billion for 23 hospitals/medical centres are being processed by the banks.
With enhancement of financing limit, the SBP said it is expected that large-scale facilities will be created for treating COVID-19 patients by using subsidised funding being extended under this facility.
Meanwhile, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Monday announced that it will not issue fresh currency notes for Eid-ul-Fitr this year in view of coronavirus outbreak.
In a statement, the central bank clarified that new currency notes will not be issued on the eve of Eid this year amid COVID-19 pandemic.
Sources said that SBP’s COID-19 committee head has imposed ban on issuance of fresh notes on Eid. The decision has been taken as part of measures to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Earlier on March 24, as part of preventive measures to contain the spread of novel coronavirus, the State Bank of Pakistan had directed all the banks to provide authenticated and disinfected currency notes to the people.
The central bank had said that it will ensure to clean, disinfect, seal and quarantine all cash being collected from hospitals and clinics and to block the circulation of such cash in the market. – TLTP

Leave a Reply