Brunei banks agree to defer repayments for select business sectors amidst COVID-19 outbreak

Tourism, hospitality, food and beverage and air transport sectors exempted for up to six months along with importers of food and medical supplies

A food vendor participating in a sales event. The first state-led measures to mitigate the effect of the COVID-19 outbreak on businesses were announced on March 19.

The Brunei government and the banking industry have agreed to defer financing and loan repayments for up to six months for four sectors yesterday to help mitigate the financial impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The deferment on principal repayments applies to businesses within the sectors of tourism, hospitality/event management, food and beverage (restaurant/cafes) and air transport as well as importers of food and medical supplies. Interest or profit rates still apply.

The Second Finance and Economy Minister YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew made the announcement at a government-led press conference yesterday that updated that the COVID-19 outbreak in the Sultanate had increased to 73 cases.

The minister said that the interim deferments – the first official state-led measures to alleviate financial burdens of Brunei businesses in the outbreak – were initiated by Brunei’s central bank Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD) with the support of the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MOFE) and the Brunei Association of Banks (BAB).

The minister added that all bank fees and charges related to trade and payment transactions for companies in these sectors would be waived for six months. Local interbank transfer fees will also be waived for six months for all customers.

In a press statement, AMBD encouraged banks to review their lending rates in the prevailing environment.

The government issued a notice effective March 19 that all dine-in services at food premises would be stopped until further notice, although takeout and food deliveries are still allowed. Gyms, bowling centres, golf clubs and professional sporting events have also been suspended until further notice.

Full statement from AMBD: