BANGKOK (NNT) – The spread of coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 is taking a toll on the economy, including debtors who might have their revenue reduced. The Bank of Thailand has urged commercial banks to provide assistance packages and prepare for the next stage of the pandemic.
The Bank of Thailand’s Governor Veerathai Santiprabhob said on Thursday that financial institutions have collectively helped refinance some 30,000 clients, amounting to 234 billion baht in total, after the Bank of Thailand issued a refinancing promotion policy on 28th February.
Financial institutions have offered a pause in principle payments, interest rate cuts, and an extension of the payback period. Some banks have set up special centers such as One Stop Service centers to serve affected clients, and have offered schemes to help different groups of clients.
He said the number of clients who have already received help is considered minimal when compared to the many affected by the disruptive effects of COVID-19, thus financial institutions should offer refinancing packages to debtors, especially SMEs and individual businesses. Banks should prepare contingency plans to ensure continuous services as the COVID-19 spread escalates, by ensuring that clients can make cash withdrawals, and the network is capable of handling the increase in the number of electronic transactions.
The Thai Bankers’ Association’s Chairman Predee Daochai said member banks are ready to assist affected clients according to the policy issued in February, by offering a pause in principle payments, reducing the monthly minimum payment amount, and offering soft loans in cooperation with the government.
He said affected businesses can reach out to their banks without waiting to be contacted first, and reassured members of the public that financial services will not be disrupted by COVID-19.