Singapore regulator, banks in talks to extend debt relief scheme


One of the key measures being discussed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and local banks is the possibility of lengthening the debt relief programme, with industries that have been impacted most by the crisis potentially having aid extended by as many as six months

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s central bank is in talks with lenders about extending the nation’s debt moratorium programme beyond Dec 31 to provide extra relief for borrowers hit by the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, according to sources.

One of the key measures being discussed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and local banks is the possibility of lengthening the debt relief programme, with industries that have been impacted most by the crisis potentially having aid extended by as many as six months, the sources said.

A tiered approach is being considered, so relief is targeted to those needing the most help, one of the people said. Details of the plan and what types of borrowers will be covered under an extension are still being finalised, they said.

Under the current measures announced in March, small and medium-sized firms can opt to postpone principal payments on their secured term loans until the end of the year. Consumers can defer both principal and interest payments on residential mortgages. Individuals suffering a loss of income can ask for a lower interest rate on unsecured credit.

An extension to the debt moratorium would help mitigate the so-called “cliff effect” on consumers and businesses once relief measures end. Authorities are using both fiscal and monetary tools to provide support against what may be a record recession that came with the pandemic.

The government introduced additional support measures of S$8bil (US$5.8bil) last month to cushion the blow from the virus, bringing Singapore’s total pledged pandemic aid to more than S$100bil. — Bloomberg

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