Coronavirus crisis: SBI defers payment of EMIs by 3 months to ease pressure on customers

NEW DELHI: In a bid to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on businesses and individuals, the State Bank of India, which is the country’s largest lender, has offered a three-month moratorium on term loan instalments to its borrowers.

The SBI said on Tuesday (March 31, 2020) that it has initiated steps to defer equated monthly instalments (EMIs) and interest on term loan falling due between March 1 to May 31 and extend repayment period by three months.

The interest on working capital facilities for the given period has also been deferred by three months, it said.

SBI has already cut interest rate by 75 basis points to pass on the complete rate cut benefits to its borrowers availing loans linked to external benchmark linked lending rate (EBR) and repo linked lending rate (RLLR).

The decision is likely to provide major relief to its customers, especially middle-class borrowers.

In a similar fashion, public sector lender Canara Bank announced that customers can avail three-month moratorium on term loan installments and interest payments/EMIs falling between March 1 to May 31, while repayment period will get extended accordingly.

Other leading banks including PNB, Bank of Baroda etc informed their customers about deferment in loan EMIs and interest dues to help them in overcoming financial difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent nation-wide lockdown.

While announcing the relief package last week in the wake of Covid-19, the Reserve Bank left the implementation part to be taken care of by respective banks.

Days after, banks said they have started sensitising their branches across the country about the moratorium on loans as a relief to customers who may find it difficult to keep supplementing their liabilities.

Punjab National Bank (PNB) tweeted, “Due to COVID-19 Pandemic, instalments/ interest due for March, April, May 2020 on term loan and working capital limit stands deferred. Term loan repayment period is being extended by three months accordingly. Contact your branch for further details.”

Union Bank of India Managing Director Rajkiran Rai G said that branches have been informed about with respect to moratorium on all term loans. “In case of those who have opted for ECS route for EMI deduction, customers are given the option of availing the facility by informing the branch concerned through mail or other digital medium,” he said.

Banks on its own unilaterally cannot stop ECS payment due to legal issue but the customer has the option of requesting bank to stop it, Rai said.

Among the private sector lenders, HDFC Bank and Axis Bank said they have been examining the RBI measure and will inform customers soon.

“We are actively working towards implementing the requirements of the RBI guidelines on COVID-19 Regulatory Package for offering moratorium on payment of instalments and/or deferment of interest. The customers would be informed shortly about the details and the manner of availing the option(s),” Axis Bank said in a tweet.

While HDFC Bank said it is studying the notification issued by the RBI and will communicate the details shortly.