JS Bank, HBL, Bank Al Habib lead the way in Rozgar Refinance Scheme

Lahore (Muhammad Yasir) On April 10, 2020 State Bank of Pakistan, under the leadership of Governor State Bank, Reza Baqir, introduced a scheme to protect workers and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The scheme was dubbed Rozgar Refinance Scheme.

The refinance scheme aimed to provide concessional credit at 3% interest rate and generous repayment terms to any business that commits to not lay off workers for 3 months. The goal of the scheme was to provide an incentive to businesses to protect jobs. On May 06, 2020 SBP complemented this scheme with a 40% percent risk sharing facility (RSF) on first loss basis from the Government of Pakistan for utilization of this scheme for SMEs and small corporates (defined as business with annual turnover not exceeding Rs. 2 billion).

As of June 12, 2020 there has been significant take up in the scheme. Banks have approved loan applications worth Rs. 107.5 billion of which Rs. 23.5 billion is for SMEs and small corporates under the risk sharing facility.

Amongst the banks there is considerable difference in the extent to which they have provided credit under the RSF. Some have been more active than others. Review of data indicates that five banks together constitute more than 61 percent share of overall approved financing amount under the Risk Sharing Facility (RSF) with JS Bank Limited at the top, followed by HBL and Bank Al‐Habib.

In order to support the business concerns for payment of salaries and wages during the current crisis of COVID-19, SBP introduced incentives for businesses under refinance scheme for payment of wages and salaries to the workers and employees to prevent layoffs. Under the scheme, active tax payers can get financing at mark-up rate to 3 percent for payment of salaries.

It may be mentioned here that the federal government had also allocated Rs30 billion under a credit risk sharing facility for the banks spread over four years to share the burden of losses due to any bad loans in future in this scheme. Under this risk sharing arrangement, the federal government will bear 40 percent first loss on principal portion of disbursed loan portfolio of the banks.