KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan has expanded the scope of its recently-announced relief package for businesses and households to other sectors including agriculture, women enterprises and small and medium enterprises and microfinance.

The SBP said the measures will help these sectors cope with challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The borrowers will, however, continue servicing their mark up during the period of deferment of principals.

“The relaxation allowed for deferment in repayment of principal amount for one year for corporate, consumer, agriculture, SMEs and microfinance sectors, will now be available on financing of banks or DFIs under SBP’s refinance schemes as well,” said the SBP.

The SBP notification further said that, “in case borrowers are not able to service mark-up payment, banks or development financial institutions may reschedule or restructure the loan in such a manner that tenor of the loan can go up to one year beyond the existing maximum tenor of the respective scheme.”

The coronavirus-led lockdown in the country has paralysed trade and industry raising risks of defaults by thousands of small and medium size companies. At the same time, borrowers from all segments of the economy have taken serious hits to their cash flows and profitability as they have had to shut down operations amid a sharp fall in demand.

The borrowers of the SBP ‘s refinance schemes and their shariah alternatives would benefit from this relaxation including Long Term Financing Facility, Financing Facility for storage of Agriculture produce, Refinance Facility of Modernization of SMEs, Refinance and Credit Guarantee Scheme for Women Entrepreneurs, Refinance Scheme for Working Capital Financing of Small Enterprises and Low End Medium Enterprises and Small Enterprise Financing and Credit Guarantee Scheme for Special Persons.

Published in Dawn, April 5th, 2020

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