The State Bank of Pakistan (“SBP”) has taken quick, fast and robust action to respond to the unfolding Coronavirus pandemic. For starters the interest rate has been reduced by 4.25 percent within one month of the lockdown in Pakistan. The Central Bank has also been proactive on the policy development front directing the financial institutions of the country on various aspects of meeting the economic fallout from the Coronavirus pandemic. SBP’s response has ranged from directing banks to grant relaxation provided in respective prudential regulations related to deferment of principal or rescheduling/restructuring of financing facilities across the industrial, housing and agricultural sectors to guiding banks to implementing SOPs for continuing banking services during the period of lockdown in light of the guidelines issued by the World Health Organization, the Government of Pakistan and the Provincial Governments to take measures to reduce contact with currency notes and to ensure uninterrupted financial services through ATMs, online banking, transactions through call centers, etc. to introduce electronic account opening forms/other forms. Additionally, SBP has also directed that deferment of principal will not impact the credit history of the borrower and such rescheduling/restricting would not be a reportable item in the credit bureau’s data. It may not be out of place to mention here that banks have continued to remain open during the Coronavirus pandemic in Pakistan.
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