South Africa Relaxes Loan-Guarantee Rules to Improve Take-Up

South Africa is in talks with non-banking lenders to join its 200 billion rand ($12 billion) loan-guarantee measures as it seeks to improve access to finance for businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The government-backed program will have less stringent approval processes and extend repayment periods, the National Treasury, the South African Reserve Bank and the Banking Association of South Africa said in a joint statement on Sunday. Businesses will also have access to so-called “restart loans” as the country gradually relaxes restrictions introduced late March to curb the spread of the virus.

The revisions come as banks prepare to report financial results next month. Industry earnings could drop by at least 20% this year, according to the Banking Association.

Other changes to the program include:

  • An extension of interest and capital repayment holidays to a maximum of six months from three months.
  • Scrapping a revenue cap and replacing it with a maximum loan amount of 100 million rand. Banks may also provide syndicated loans of more than than 50 million rand.
  • Easing the so-called “test for good standing” for the period between Feb. 29 and Dec. 31 to allow businesses with cash-flow problems during that time to take loans.
  • The inclusion of sole proprietorships in the program, which can now use loan proceeds to pay salaries. Security is no longer explicitly required for these businesses.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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