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COVID-19

Loan repayment holiday for Fijians affected by coronavirus

March 26, 2020 10:15 pm
Fijians who have lost their jobs or had their hours reduced and have loans to repay can breathe a sigh of relief.

Fijians who have lost their jobs or had their hours reduced and have loans to repay can breathe a sigh of relief.

The government has struck a deal with banks and higher purchase companies to defer the loan repayments for these affected Fijians for six months.

These include mortgages, personal loans and higher purchase loans from stores like Courts, Carpenters, Vinod Patel and other similar outlets.

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For those hit the hardest, principal plus interest payments must all be deferred as well.

Under the Consumer Credit Act, higher purchase companies and licensed Credit Institutions are mandate to go an extra mile to help their customers in times of hardship.

The Economy Minister says the same goes for affected business.

Businesses facing serious cash flow challenges, six months of loan repayments will be deferred.

“If the impact you feeling is particularly severe you may qualify to have principal plus interest payment deferred as well.”

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says they have also got an agreement with the banks where they will waive all charges on minimum balance in customers’ accounts and remove the minimum purchase requirement for electronic transactions.

“You should be able to go and use your card in the nearest store to buy something for two dollars. The stores will now accept that. Because we don’t want people to be rushing to one store in particular. They should be able to buy this very quickly, don’t have to go to banks and line up for cash. They should be able to purchase items through their ATM Cards.”

Sayed-Khaiyum says should the situation deteriorate, government has already made a commitment to the banks to give further assurance to them to protect ordinary Fijians who have home mortgages.

He says for now the CCA will suffice but if the situation worsens the government will provide a letter of comfort to all banks to protect people’s home mortgages.

“Let me be clear of this, those who can pay their mortgages should pay their mortgages. If you have not had a job loss, please pay your mortgages. Don’t rob from those who need it now and don’t rob from yourselves if down the track your also require this assistance.”

Taken together, Sayed-Khaiyum says the government in its new COVID-19 response deal with the banks will provide a relief of an estimated $400m for workers and companies.

An additional five million dollars will also be added to the Small and Medium Enterprises Credit Guarantee Scheme.

Sayed-Khaiyum says under this scheme if any of the businesses with an outstanding guaranteed loan fail, the government has more resources to cover 50 percent of the outstanding loans.

“We will also be reviving the Fiji Investment Corporation Limited to aid existing small to medium businesses with immediate equity injections and refinancing opportunities. This will be managed through the Fiji Development Bank. In fact other businesses have also shown an interest in propping up this initiative capital based.”

All repayments under the Tertiary Education Loan Scheme has also been suspended until 31st December 2020.

Sayed-Khaiyum says this will provide these working Fijians around $10m in immediate relief.

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