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EU banking watchdog revives relief measures for Covid-hit loans

[LONDON] European Union regulators have revived guidance to allow banks to grant a new round of loan repayment holidays to coronavirus-hit customers without triggering a big surge in provisioning that would crimp the flow of credit.

The European Banking Authority (EBA) said that, due to the second wave of Covid-19 infections, guidance for banks that expired on Sept 30 was being reactivated until March 31, 2021.

As the first set of lockdowns from March closed businesses, banks began granting payment holidays on company loans, mortgages and other types of credit.

Loans totalling 871 billion euros (S$1.40 trillion) had benefitted from the relief measures by June.

Without guidance originally introduced by EBA in April, banks would have been required to start automatically provisioning for loans not being repaid 90 days after the due date, making them less likely to keep lending to the Covid-hit economy.

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EBA said loans that did not previously benefit can now also benefit from the reissued guidance, but it said it had introduced two "constraints" this time round to ensure that problem loans were being recognised by lenders in some way.

Loans could only benefit from a repayment holiday for nine months in total and banks must spell out plans for assessing whether loans subject to payment holiday were likely to default, EBA said.


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