Standard Bank is giving small businesses and students banking with it a three-month debt payment holiday to help them mitigate the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
In an update on its website, the bank said its Coronavirus Business Interruption Payment Scheme will launch on 1 April, 2020.
It said, “We will set up automatic new payment terms for all our clients with a turnover of less than R20 million per annum, who are up to date with their payments as at the end of March 2020 and are in good standing with Standard Bank.”
0% interest and zero fees for students
The bank added that repayment will be structured to capitalise on interest and fees. Businesses that don’t wish to change their payment terms should contact their bankers immediately, it said.
Standard Bank also said the payment holiday for student loans will start from 1 April until the end of June at 0% interest and with zero fees.
To be eligible, students should still be studying full time and have a student load with Standard Bank. “This is an automatic offer that requires no action from you,” the bank said.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) were among political parties calling for payment holidays from banks last week.
DA welcomes Standard Bank’s announcement
Writing on Twitter on Sunday, DA’s shadow finance minister Geordin Hill-Lewis welcomed the announcement by Standard Bank.
He said, “I welcome this announcement as much needed relief for small business owners and their employees, as well as students. This now needs to be matched by the other banks as well.”
On Thursday, the Minister of Small Business Development Khumbudzo Ntshavheni also announced a small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMME) Support Intervention to help small businesses hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Ntshavheni said the Intervention will comprise a Debt Relief Fund and a Business Growth/Resilience Facility.
She added, “The Debt Relief Fund is aimed at providing relief on existing debts and repayments to assist SMMEs during the period of the COVID-19 State of Disaster.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa also held a consultation with business leaders in Pretoria on Sunday to “engage recommendations to mitigate the impact of the outbreak on the economy at large.”
He is later expected to address the nation after chairing a meeting of the National Command Council which is expected to discuss COVID-19’s economic impact among other issues.