Banks boost loans to small, medium businesses

Retail banks say they have been rolling out loans to help businesses survive the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Bankers' Association said so far $28.9 billion worth of new loans or restructured loans had been agreed with close to 36,000 customers.

Chief executive Roger Beaumont said banks had been pro-active in offering affected businesses options to secure their finances and cushion the impact of the pandemic.

"Some small business owners who are affected by Covid-19 may be able to move to interest-only repayments on their loans to help get them through or temporarily defer all loan repayments."

He said 21,480 customers had negotiated restructured loans, and reduced repayments and deferrals worth more than $22bn.

Another $6.6bn in new loans had been granted to 14,555 customers.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson earlier said banks needed to do more to support small and medium sized businesses.

Beaumont said businesses needed to be clear about their own circumstances and what changes to any loans would mean.

"For loan repayment deferrals in particular, it's important to note that interest on these loans will still accrue, and deferred interest will be added to the principal amount of the loan."

"Loan repayment deferrals are not 'holidays'. That's not an accurate description and may mislead some customers," he said.

This article was originally published on RNZ and re-published with permission.

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