Photo: Andrea Piacquadio

Two hundred and forty out of the 622 applications for loan deferments made since the second wave of COVID-19 in August have been approved.

Second Minister of Finance and Economy YB Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Mohd Amin Liew Abdullah shared the figures at the COVID-19 press conference on September 18.

350 deferment applications were still being processed, with 18 applications rejected and another 12 withdrawing their application.

Of the 18 rejections, only one is a business, while the other 17 cases are by individuals for financing including house and personal loans.

“The 10 (cases by individuals that were rejected), their salary was not affected, and these also included government staff. If there is justification (for deferment), I’m sure they will consider,” said the minister.

“So it is not what (some accounts on) social media are saying, that there is a blanket disapproval. They (banks) have to look after their own financial situation, make sure they continue to be a credible bank.”

The loan deferments cover most types of debt and are applicable to businesses and individuals whose revenue, income or livelihood has been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The minister reiterated that applications are subject to the review of the lending banks and financial institutions, and must be able to provide evidence how the ongoing crisis has affect their ability to repay.

Although flexibility is offered over debt repayments, interest or profit rates may also accumulate during the deferral period.

The loan deferments are applicable until December 31, 2021 and fall under the wider economic relief measures by the government to help those financially affected by the pandemic.

These deferments were also offered during the first outbreak of COVID-19 in March last year. From April to December 2020, 2,014 applications for assistance were granted by banks and finance companies.

The deferments are made possible by the Brunei Darussalam Central Bank (BDCB) providing regulatory flexibility to encourage banks and other financial institutions to offer borrowers the temporary assistance.

Other measures by BDCB include waiving of interbank transfer fees until December 31, 2021.