First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) on Thursday unveiled a debt-relief programme for retail and corporate clients, joining other local companies in trying to cushion the blows to the local economy expected to take a battering from a nationwide lockdown to fight the highly contagious Covid – 19.
“We would like to assure our customers that in addition to putting in place the necessary precautionary measures to ensure the health and safety of our customers, staff and vendors during this time, we continue to reinforce our capacity to provide uninterrupted essential banking services which allow customers to do their everyday banking through our innovative digital channels and branches”, says Steven Bogatsu – FNBB Chief Executive.
The local banker which is also trading its shares at the local bourse – Botswana Stock Exchange says it has been closely monitoring developments, with view of provisionally restructuring its operations and solutions to meet the changing demands and minimise the impact of the pandemic. By Thursday Botswana had officially registered seven positive cases of Covid – 19.
Amongst other things the bank says it will avail a cashflow relief to eligible customers with a good track record of honouring their payments prior to 1 March 2020. The banker says the cashflow relief measures will be applied to both Retail and Commercial customers for a period of three (3) months (from 07 April – 30 June) and will include instalment relief for Retail customers with home loan, personal loan and WesBank loans. The relief will also be availed to SME customers, commercial property finance, vehicle and asset finance and term loans. It is anticipated that SME businesses with an annual turnover up to P10 million and an initial loan amount not exceeding P5 million will also benefit from the instalment relief program.
The FNBB relief program follows a recent announcement by the central bank – Bank of Botswana that in order to enable local commercial banks to satisfy capital requirements and address liquidity challenges, the prudential capital adequacy ratio has been reduced from 15 percent to 12.5 percent.
The central Bank also said it will maintain uninterrupted supply and availability of clean banknotes and coin, as well as banking services, primarily to Government and commercial banks.