THE Bankers’ Association of Zambia (BAZ) says the K10 billion Medium-Term Financing facility announced by the Bank of Zambia (BoZ) is set to take to take effect and be accessible from April 15.

And the Association says its members are willing to offer depositors experiencing financial challenges as a result of COVID-19, who are in good standing with their banks, loan restructuring and payment holidays.

In a statement, Association chairperson Herman Kasekende announced that the K10 billion loan facility would take effect, Wednesday, April 15.

“Our focus of discussions between the BoZ and the BAZ in the past weeks has been to consider the industry’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and how to protect Zambian businesses during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. In this regard, we are happy to announce the conclusion of our discussions and the finalization of the terms and conditions of the Medium-Term Financing facility to the tune of K10 billion, which was announced by the BoZ on April 3, 2020. This facility shall take effect on Wednesday April 15, 2020,” Kasekende stated.

“The Association warmly welcomes the announced stimulus package and the accommodative loan loss provisioning standards issued under Gazette notice No. 287 of 2020, and the moratorium on the application of IFRS 9 accounting standards to help protect businesses and households from the financial shocks related to COVID-19. BAZ would like to express its gratitude to the staff of all the banks, who continue serving the public during this very trying period. We also commend BoZ and government for the timely interventions and collaboration.”

He further called on clients to utilize digital channels of banking and avoid physically going to branches unless extremely necessary.

“All our channels will remain open during this period to ensure clients continue accessing essential financial services. In this respect, it has become imperative to elevate healthy and safety measures so that our various touch points (especially the branches) do not become a conduit of transmission for COVID-19. We encourage staff and our clients to practice social distancing in our branches and ensure that they wear face masks and constantly wash or sanitize their hands. Our earnest appeal is that clients should transact from the safety of their homes through digital channels (online and mobile banking) and only visit branches when absolutely necessary. We also pledge to leave all our ATMs operational. In addition, banks have put in place Business Continuity protocols to ensure smooth operations of the above channels,” he added.

And Kasekende, who is also Standard Chartered Bank Zambia Limited managing director, noted that clients that were looking for financial support and remained in good standing with their respective banks should contact their banks to access available funding.

“We also strongly encourage our clients to continue meeting their banking and financial obligations. Clients in good standing – those that were up to-date with commitments and have historically conducted their relationship with banks responsibly, but have experienced financial challenges as a result of COVID-19 and are looking for support, should contact their respective banks who will, on a need and case-by-case basis, assist with appropriate solutions. Banks are agreeable to restructure loans and give repayment holidays and to responsibly support their customers and preserve the safety and soundness of the financial sector, while operating within the relevant regulatory frameworks,” stated Kasekende.

“Banks have removed the fees on E-WaIIet transfers of up to K150.00 and will comply with the directives issued by the BoZ under Gazette Notice No. 286 dated April 3, 2020 on the Prohibition against Unwarranted Charges and Fees and Regulations of Specific Charges Directives, to encourage the use of digital and electronic payment channels. Particular attention will be given to those sectors that are prioritized in the SNDP, therefore, bank clients in need of financial support are reminded to contact their respective banks for specific terms and conditions.”