Thailand's central bank offers more debt measures to ease Covid-19 impact

BANGKOK, Aug 21 (Reuters): Thailand's central bank has approved additional measures to assist debtors affected by the country's coronavirus epidemic with income and jobs declining, as an economic recovery will be slow and uneven, it has announced.

The South-East Asian country reached 1 million infections on Friday (Aug 21), the vast majority of those in the past five months, prompting strict curbs in areas accounting for about 80% of gross domestic product.

The outbreak has severely affected the Thai economy approved to ease the impact include liquidity for smaller businesses and an easing of rules on loans for retail debtors, the Bank of Thailand (BOT) said.

Flexible rules on debt classification and provisions will be allowed until the end of 2023 to reduce banks' costs so that they can help debtors with debt restructuring, the BOT said.

A reduced 0.23% of deposits per annum that banks pay into the Financial Institutions Development Fund (FIDF) will be extended for another year to the end of 2022.

"The measures will be like a provision to be passed on to financial institutions so that they can help debtors," senior director Suwannee Jatsadasak told a news conference.

The BOT has focused on financial and debt measures since last cutting its key interest rate in May 2020 due to the impacts of the pandemic. The BOT governor recently said interest rates were a blunt tool. - Reuters

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