Banks Urged To Provide Financial Relief To Clients, Employees

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The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has urged banks to provide financial relief to their clients and employees as the country copes with the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

The BSP also strongly encouraged its supervised financial institutions to temporarily suspend all fees and charges imposed on the use of online banking platforms or electronic money, including those imposed on the use of Instapay or PesoNet electronic fund transfer.

In a statement issued Monday night, BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said these measures will enable the general public to facilitate banking transactions during the Covid-19 situation.

“This is part of our efforts to assist the Filipino people in these trying times,” he said.

To date, the Department of Health (DOH) reported that confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country reached 142, while recovered cases number to three and deaths, 12.

With the jump of confirmed cases, Malacanang announced on Monday an enhanced community quarantine in the main Luzon island from March 17-April 12, 2020.

This decision was made after Metro Manila was placed under community quarantine starting March 15.

Diokno said that with more people now barred from going out unnecessarily, banks may extend financial assistance to their personnel who are affected by the Covid-19 “subject to subsequent regularization with the BSP, if necessary.”

He said the BSP has available regulatory relief for banks that will provide assistance to their employees.

These regulatory relief includes exclusion from the past due ratio of loans to affected borrowers for a period of one year and staggered booking of provision for probable losses over a period of five years, subject to prior approval of the BSP.

Diokno said these measures aim to encourage BSP supervised financial institutions (BSFIs) to grant a temporary grace period for loan payments or restructure loan accounts of their borrowers.

“Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 may result in disruption in bank operations, the BSP will not impose monetary penalties on the delayed submission of their supervisory reports and on legal reserve deficiencies, with the latter subject to BSP approval,” he said.

Diokno further said banks that are under rehabilitation programs may be given a moratorium on their monthly payments that are due to the BSP.

BSFIs that are interested to avail of the central bank’s rediscounting facility are qualified for a 60-day grace period on the settlement of outstanding rediscounting obligations with the BSP without penalty charges; restructuring of rediscounted loans of their end-user borrowers affected by the COVID-19; and a relaxed eligibility criteria.

“The measures may already be availed up to one (1) year from 8 March 2020. This period may be extended depending on the developments of the Covid-19 situation,” the statement said, citing that banks just need to inform the BSP of their intentions to avail of these measures. (PNA)

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