SAMA Reveals Measures to Face Virus Consequences

Saudi banks to restructure financing without extra fees, and people demand that banks reconsider interest on their services (Reuters)

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) has revealed a package of precautionary measures taken in the banking sector.

SAMA, the Kingdom’s Central Bank, said banks should agree to restructure financing for customers without extra fees. It also asked banks to provide financing needed by private sector customers who lost their jobs.

Banks should also review interest and other fees levied on credit cards. This is in line with the recent drop in interest rates, it noted.

These guidelines are part of measures to limit the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

They include supporting and financing the private sector through preventive measures that benefit customers, banks and the economy.

It wants banks to immediately put in place a lending program for at least six months to “assist in maintaining employment levels,” according to a document sent by the regulator to lenders.

Relief on debt repayments

Banks should also provide relief on debt repayments for any dismissed customers, it stressed, adding that they should waive all fees and charges from the use of digital channels for up to six months, including the activation fee for new customers.

“Minimum balance charges for all bank accounts to be waived for up to six months with charging no fee for at least six months to refinance existing facilities or break an existing loan or deposit agreement.”

According to the document; banks shall also review and reassess credit card interest rates and other charges for all customers. They are to refund customers who may need to cancel travel bookings made on their credit, debit or prepaid cards.

SAMA affirmed that it is following up on all the developments resulting from the coronavirus outbreak on various economic sectors.

“The Authority will provide all necessary means of support to maintain the financial sector’s safety and stability. This also to enable it to support and finance various activities and other economic sectors,” it said.