In a bid to cope with the current Covid-19 pandemic and prevent an economic shock, the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR) has eased the normal bank loaning procedures for both banks and its clients.
In a statement released Wednesday evening BNR asked banks to relax their grip on loan repayment conditions of clients affected by Covid-19.
“Banks are exceptionally allowed to restructure outstanding loans of borrowers facing temporary cash flow challenges arising from the Covid-19 pandemic,” the BNR statement said in part.
To enable this, BNR said it has, in addition to existing lending facilities to banks, floated a liquidity support of Rwf50billion for banks to be able to borrow at Central Bank rate of 5%; as indicated in the recent monetary policy statement.
BNR conditions are that the loan repayment duration will be in three and 12 months and banks are open for borrowing in the next six months but at the description of the Central Bank.
Rwanda in $5M loss over cancelled conferences
The new measures that will help to mitigate the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic come at a time when the economy is losing billions in the service sector, which is one of the key economy drivers for this year.
For instance, from cancelled conferences that were to be hosted this March and April, Rwanda has so far lost more than $5 million in the hospitality sector alone.
Banks have been allowed to exceptionally renegotiate loan terms and conditions for borrowers negatively impacted by the pandemic- that includes individuals, SMEs and large corporate regardless of their sector of operation.
As good news for bond investors the Central Bank said that for the next six months it will be able to buy back the floated bonds (at the existing market rate) in case the buyers are not able to sell on the secondary market (from official brokers) but with a reduced waiting period from 30 to 15 days.
Since the first Covid-19 case was reported on March 14, citizens have been asked to make limited movement, use cashless or digital payments and work from home.
This means that many Rwandans have been depending on mobile money payments and digital transactions to survive in business and apparently incurring service costs which add on the already existing economic strain.
To avert this challenge and pressure, BNR and mobile network service providers agreed to cut all costs to zero per transaction.
For instance, there will not be any charge between bank and wallet transactions, or on mobile money transfees (sending and reception) nor one point of sale.