Coronavirus: Banks roll out relief measures for SMEs, home owners

A lunch crowd seen at the central business district on a photo taken on Jan 17, 2020.
A lunch crowd seen at the central business district on a photo taken on Jan 17, 2020.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Smaller firms have one concern above all others during the coronavirus outbreak - to generate enough cash flow to meet operational costs so their businesses can stay afloat, a DBS Bank poll showed.

The survey polled about 100 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) earlier this month, the bank said yesterday.

These SMEs' concerns have prompted the bank to provide liquidity relief packages to address urgent cash-flow needs.

DBS said it will offer a six-month debt moratorium on principal repayments for property loans to SMEs, as well as on mortgages for home owners here.

The relief measures will be "available upon application to customers with good repayment histories", it added.

Retail customers can apply for a six-month principal repayment moratorium for mortgages. More details will be released next week.

OCBC Bank said yesterday that it is working closely with customers to mitigate the fallout from the outbreak.

"Flexibility is offered to accommodate each customer's financial position," it noted.

Its measures include allowing customers to restructure their loans and providing a moratorium on principal repayment, including home mortgages and business loans. It will also extend the due date of the affected business' trade finance bills and bridging loans in the form of additional working capital financing to affected businesses.

United Overseas Bank announced an assistance package on Wednesday that allocates $3 billion for corporate customers, especially SMEs, that need help to offset the impact the virus outbreak has on their businesses.

Standard Chartered said yesterday that business banking customers who have been affected by the virus outbreak can ask to waive late fees and related charges like restructuring costs for up to six months.

Those with existing commercial mortgages can apply for an additional loan or overdraft against their property to improve their cash flow.

Retail customers can ask to waive late and default fees for their mortgage, applicable to late payments for monthly instalments from last December.

Repricing fees will be waived for those who asked to reduce their interest rates, the statement added, noting that the bank will also offer six-to-12 months' moratorium on principal repayments upon request.

Mr Adam Rahman, Citibank's corporate affairs head for Asean and Singapore, said the bank is offering to help affected customers with interest and fee waivers, tenure extensions and payment reduction programmes, among other measures.

An HSBC spokesman told The Straits Times that the bank will work with its customers "to review their current situation and identify appropriate arrangements".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2020, with the headline 'Banks roll out relief measures for smaller firms, home owners'. Print Edition | Subscribe