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Protect SMEs from predatory banks, BOZ told

By CHARLES MUSONDA
THE Bank of Zambia (BoZ) should intervene in banks that are pursuing small and medium entreprises (SMEs) to repay loans they got before the COVID-19 outbreak, an opposition political party leader has demanded.
Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) acting spokesperson Yotam Mtayachalo said BoZ should call for a meeting with all the banks and other financial lending institutions to give them guidelines on how to handle the issue in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The issue of banks and other financial institutions who are pursuing people who got loans (before COVID-19 outbreak) is very unfortunate because it is not these people’s making that they are struggling to pay back and why should the banks push them?
“It is not only bars, nightclubs, restaurants and others that have been affected. The entire SMEs have been affected in one way or another by the restrictions put in place, which have seen most businesses go down,” Mr. Mtayachalo said.
He commended President Lungu and his government for providing K10 billion credit line to banks that may face liquidity challenges and for directing that priority be given to small scale entreprises
He advised government to be categorical on the type of SMEs that will benefit from the credit line and to ensure there is transparency in the process.
Mr. Mtayachalo appealed to financial lending institutions to relax certain conditions because there are so many bureaucratic requirements especially for the SMEs that do not have collateral.
“We hope the Bank of Zambia will be able to address this and we would also encourage the financial institutions to decentralize access to credit. If it will only be done in Lusaka and provincial headquarters it means these other rural districts will be disadvantaged because people cannot move from Chama, Zambezi or Shang’ombo to go and access money in Lusaka.
“We feel that more resources should be given to NATSAVE (National Credit and Savings) bank because it has branches in almost all parts of Zambia and people will not need to travel from remote rural areas to Lusaka. It is our plea that let’s decentralize the same.”

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