By BUUMBA CHIMBULU
OVER K550 million has been accessed by the First National Bank (FNB) Zambia under the Bank of Zambia’s stimulus package meant to provide relief to key economic sectors and households impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
FNB Zambia Chief Executive Officer, Bydon Longwe, said 80 percent of the funds had been channelled to the agriculture sector.
TheCentral Bank in April last year set up a K10 billion Targeted Medium Term Refinancing Facility (TMTRF) aimed at cushioning the adverse effects of Covid-19 on enterprises and individuals, with the funds expected to be distributed for onward lending through commercial banks.
Responding to this stimulus package, Mr Longwe indicated that FNB Zambia had applied for K550 million and that half of the funds had already been withdrawn.
“The biggest component of our loans and advances sits in the agriculture sector and we felt that they needed that support. We applied to the Central Bank and we drew down on the funds and we have channelled about 80 percent of that into the agriculture sector.
“The total in terms of what we applied for was about K550 million, we have drawn half of that so far we just above half of that and we have already channelled most of it into the agriculture sector,” Mr Longwe said in an interview.
The stimulus package, he stressed, came a right time as FNB Zambia channelled the money where it was needed the most. Mr Longwe said his institution had assisted customers to the tune of K104 million through internally generated funds. He explained that customers had been provided with relief such as payment holidays for those who had loans.
“The first one is from our internally generated funds where we looked at sectors that were struggling through the pandemic, we assisted them by providing relief such as payment holidays for those who had loans.
Meanwhile, Mr Longwe indicated that the use of the bank’s digital platforms had increased with the onset of Covid-19. He said: “we have seen a very good drive towards that, our customers have really embraced digital platforms, we have seen a migration from branch into the FNB app improving and we are quite pleased about that.”