In a big relief to the corporate sector the Reserve Bank of India on Friday allowed a three month moratorium on payment of instalments in respect of all term loans outstanding on March 1, 2020.
Furthermore, the apex bank also announced deferment of interest payment on working capital loans by three months.
The twin move is expected to reduce pressure on both creditors and borrowers as the former gets relief on qualifying loans as NPAs and thereby increase provisioning for a period of three months. For borrowers facing disruptions on account of Covid-19 pandemic, the RBI move provides more time to settle their dues.
“All commercial banks (including regional rural banks, small finance banks and local area banks), co-operative banks, all-India Financial Institutions, and NBFCs (including housing finance companies and micro-finance institutions) (lending institutions) are being permitted to allow a moratorium of three months on payment of instalments in respect of all term loans outstanding as on March 1, 2020,” RBI governor Shaktikanta Das said while announcing a series of liquidity measures after the monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting.
Accordingly, the move is expected to alleviate concerns over the possible short term delinquency in retail, MSME or corporate loans.
“It’s really important that steps are taken to mitigate the burden of debt servicing brought about by disruptions on account of the Covid- 19 pandemic. These steps will go a long way to prevent the transmission of financial stress to the real economy and ensure the continuity of businesses and provide relief to borrowers in these extraordinary times,” Das said.
Deferment of interest payment and instalment of term loans has been one the demands of India Inc. due to extreme conditions presented by the spread of the virus. It will allow companies to continue with their investment plan to tide over the current situation without bothering about loan repayment for a three month period.
For banks, which faced financial stress in last few months, the move would not add up to their woes as RBI has taken enough measures to infuse liquidity in the banking system. Moreover, they would also not add up NPAs in the three month period.
The moratorium on loan repayment will cover all commercial banks, including regional rural banks, small finance banks, and local Indian banks, cooperative banks, All India financial institutions and NBFCs including housing finance companies and micro finance institutions.
Das said that while interest payment on working capital loans is being deferred the accumulated interest for the period will be paid after expiry of the period. The same will also hold true for term loans that would need to repaid after three month moratorium. No additional interest would be charged on loans that are not repaid for next three months.
Das that measures would not result in asset classification downgrade. It is also expected that moratorium and deferment may not also result in rating downgrade by agencies.
In addition, RBI eased Working Capital Financing norms.
“The moratorium on term loans, the deferring of interest payments on working capital and the easing of working capital financing will not qualify as a default for the purposes of supervisory reporting and reporting to credit information companies (CICs) by the lending institutions,” Das said.
“Hence, there will be no adverse impact on the credit history of the beneficiaries.”
“The RBI move will address the short term delinquency concerns in retail, MSME or corporate loans. This will also be a significant relief for the NBFC and the MFI sector whose operations are likely to be very severely impacted in this lockdown period,” Suman Chowdhury, President – Ratings, Acuit Ratings & Research Limited said.
According to Manoj K. Agarwal, Chief Executive Officer, Viviana Mall, “Much needed relief has been provided by the RBI following today’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting. This should result in unlocking Rs 3.74 lakh crore for the Indian economy which is estimated to be 3.2 percent of our country’s GDP. By substantially reducing the repo rate and the reverse repo rate combined with relief to bond holdings to Bank is a huge and unprecedented measure in these uncertain times. Directing banks that they can permit a three-month moratorium on all term loans was really a necessary measure to ensure debt obligations are met without companies and individuals with terms loans being classified as a defaulter. Additionally, deferment of interest on working capital borrowing, reassessment of working capital cycle and non-treatment of the same as Non-Performing Asset will help in retaining the workforce and securing the future for all concerned. This combined with other technical measures announced like auction of 1 lakh crore long term repos starting today, increase in SLR percentage and reduction of cash reserve ratio will aid in required liquidity and availability of huge funds to banks for providing loans will go a long way in supporting and boosting the economy.”