- Extension given as many small biz owners couldn’t submit their requests to banks due to curfew
- Banks are required to process moratorium requests and working capital loans within 45 days
The Central Bank has extended the deadline set to apply for loan moratoriums till May 15 as many business owners and individuals could not submit their requests to banks and other financial institutions on or before April 30 due to curfew.
The Central Bank in two circulars dated March 24 and 27 directed banks and other financial institutions to accept requests for loan moratoriums until April 30.
However, many small business owners and individuals could not submit such requests before the deadline, either due to breakdowns in logistics, lacking access to technology or extended lockdowns in certain parts including Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara and Puttalam, where movement is restricted.
“Considering the difficulties faced by some customers of financial institutions affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in obtaining certain relief measures, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka has extended the deadline (30.04.2020) for submitting requests for debt moratoriums and 4 percent per annum refinancing facility for two months working capital, until 15 May 2020,” the Central Bank said. Banks and other financial institutions are required to process such requests received for moratoriums and working capital loans within 45 days.
Meanwhile, despite the Central Bank instructing financial institutions to accept such requests via e-mail, some institutions were refusing to do so until and unless the borrower submits the request via their pre-printed applications containing several pages.
They want such applications to be printed, furnished, scanned and e-mailed to them by those who are unable to visit a branch due to curfew in order to process such requests for moratorium, little realising that great many people do not possess all-in-one printers at homes as access to communication centres remain shuttered.
“The eligible businesses and individuals are requested to contact their respective banks with necessary information/documents on a timely basis if they wish to avail themselves of the relief measures.
“These measures require the banks to extend the existing tenure of loans eligible for moratorium by the respective moratorium period. Thus, we urge the borrowers to repay the installments subject to the moratorium during such extended period without any additional cost, so that by receiving such funds banks will also be able to strengthen their liquidity positions,” the Central Bank requested from borrowers. Meanwhile, in a circular dated April 28, the Central Bank also extended the validity period of the expired cheques valued less than Rs.500, 000 till May 15.
In another circular issued last week, the Central Bank fixed the maximum interest rates charged on pawning by banks to 12 percent per annum or 1 percent a month effective from April 27 considering the necessity to provide relief to low income individuals who pawn their gold jewellery to meet short-term financing needs stemming from the adverse economic effects of the pandemic. Currently, banks charge interest rates between12 percent to 17.5 percent for pawning.
“It is expected that other institutions involved in pawning activities would also offer a lower interest rate to enable their customers obtain urgent finances at affordable costs so that they could later on redeem their pawned gold jewellery,” the Central Bank said.