COVID-19: Central Bank cautions public against panic

National Bank. / File.

In light of the measures adopted during the Coronavirus containment period, the Central Bank has cautioned the public against panic saying that measures have been put in place to ensure continuity and access to financial services.

In a statement by the Central Bank Governor John Rwangombwa, the financial sector regulator said that there is no need to panic as banks, Saccos and Micro-Finance Institutions will remain open offering essential services.

 

The bank also noted that banks were increasing their teams to support customers that were not registered on digital channels for them to do so efficiently.

 

To minimise the chances of transmission, the bank said that third party checks will no longer be cashed at counters with clients encouraged to bank them and access their funds electronically.

 

For personal cheques, they can only be cashed out to a daily maximum of Rwf 1M.

Rwandan banks have set up strategies and interventions to support the local economy during the duration when economic activities are expected to slow down.

Among the interventions easing loan repayment conditions to borrowers whose income streams have been affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

This will reduce the strain on local firms and individuals whose income streams have been affected by the global pandemic consequently improving survival rates of firms.

Rwanda Bankers Association Chairperson Robin Bairstow told The New Times that the eligibility of borrowers for the intervention will be on based on judgment by banks will include restructuring of loans.

Depending on the impact on a borrower, he said appropriate interventions will be considered such as increasing repayment periods among others as part of lenders’ moral obligation.

Central Bank last week announced a Rwf50bn stimulus package from which Rwandan banks can borrow from to increase their liquidity to support lending to the private sector.

The facility is expected to aid banks with liquidity challenges to borrow for short periods of time to be able to continue injecting money into the economy.

Effective April 1st, the Central Bank is expected to, lower the reserve requirement ratio from 5 per cent to 4 per cent, in order to allow banks more liquidity to further support affected businesses.

This will increase improve liquidity by up to Rwf26bn increasing funds available for lending to support the economy.

To further ensure that banks have money to support Rwandans during the virus containment period, the Central Bank reviewed the existing Treasury Bonds rediscounting window.

 For the next six months, the Central Bank has offered to buy back bonds at the prevailing market rate. The regulator also reduced the waiting period if one fails to sell the bond at the secondary market from the current 30 days to 15 days.

cmwai@newtimesrwanda.com

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