Muscat: Repayments of close to 90,000 loans, which were issued for personal, housing, SMEs, and financing purposes, have been deferred during the March to September 2020 period as per the directives of the Supreme Committee for dealing with COVID-19.
Data provided by the Central Bank of Oman (CBO) shows that 89,923 loans across the above categories have been deferred between March 18 and September 17, 2020.
The deferment came after the CBO issued a circular, in accordance with the directives of the Supreme Committee for dealing with COVID-19, ordering all banks in the country to postpone the loan repayments of those affected by the pandemic.
The CBO has issued circulars to the banks and financing companies operating in the Sultanate to postpone the repayment of loan instalments and interest, by those affected by the impact of the current situation, especially for small and medium enterprises.
This is in effect for a period of one year, from March 2020 to the end of March 2021 as per the current directives of the Supreme Committee.
It will not affect the credit rating and will therefore not affect the ability to apply for a cheque book if the customer is entitled as per the banks’ procedures.
Should the cheque of any account holder bounce due to the pandemic, it will not be included on the caution list. CBO also provided clarity on the loan repayment deferment for nationals who had their salaries deducted in August and September 2020, as well as similarly affected companies.
In September 2020 a notice to all banks operating in the Sultanate stipulated extending the loan repayment period to the Omani workforce whose wages have been reduced up to the end of December 2020 in accordance with the directives of the Supreme Committee for dealing with COVID-19.
This includes loans provided by banks, as well as funding provided through Islamic financing. There will be no additional interest counted during the period of deferment, and methods to reschedule loan repayments to banks can also be discussed if needed.
The precautionary measures from the Central Bank of Oman apply to both individuals and companies. And are periodically checked on the implementation of these measures through ongoing reporting. There may be an adjustment or modification to these measures later, to align with any new directives from the Supreme Committee.
SMEs in the country that are registered with Riyada, and some other highly affected groups such as entrepreneurs and the self-employed, are able to take out emergency interest-free loans through a program by the Oman Development Bank and Al Rafd Fund in line with the rules set out by the Supreme Committee for dealing with COVID-19.
Many economic activities have been severely affected by the spread of the coronavirus, and there is a decline in global rates of growth.
Preventive and precautionary measures have resulted in the complete suspension of most economic activities, and the reduction of workers in companies, which is keeping in the framework of policies designed to preserve human lives.
This economic impact has affected the Sultanate, as it has many other countries around the world, especially the tourism, transportation, domestic and foreign trade, and manufacturing sectors.