DBN announces relief measures

06 April 2020 | Banking

The Development Bank of Namibia (DBN) is preparing measures to give relief to borrowers in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, CEO Martin Inkumbi announced.
He said the bank recognises that borrowers are experiencing difficulty, particularly in the tourism sector and among SMEs. “In light of this, the DBN will begin providing relief to preserve the development impact of its loans as well as economic activities they were aimed to support.”
He said these measures include a temporary moratorium on repayment of capital and interest, equity conversion and resourcing, and implementation of the N$500 million relief facility announced by the finance ministry.
Inkumbi explained that the thrust of the moratorium on debt and interest repayment would be targeted at SMEs and tourism and hospitality enterprises (both SMEs and corporates) that already have loans from the bank, and are affected by the Covid-19 lockdown.
He said that ourism and hospitality includes accommodation establishments, restaurants, car hire and other enterprises in the sector. Other corporate borrowers not in the tourism and hospitality industry will be considered on a case-by-case basis and should individually approach the bank to discuss relief needed. The repayment holiday excludes contract based finance beneficiaries, who will have to approach the bank for relief to be considered on a case-by-case basis.
“Although the bank monitors repayments, the sudden and extraordinary nature of the situation means that the DBN will not immediately be able to identify all individual clients experiencing difficulties from ongoing monitoring of repayment records,” he said, calling on borrowers to approach the bank if they are experiencing sudden contractions of cash flow due to Covid-19.
He said that while the moratorium will not absolve borrowers of their debts, it will be a three month ‘debt holiday’ during which repayment will be resumed at a later date and interest will be capitalized for the period of the holiday.
“The duration of the debt holiday is three months, subject to the current duration of the lockdown, and a reasonable allowance for recovery and resumption of economic activity. This will however be reviewed on the basis of the ongoing economic impact of measures to contain Covid-19,” he said.
While the payment holidays are for three months, the bank will continue monitoring the situation and will review its measures as developments unfold, he added.
Asked why the bank won’t cancel loan repayments, Inkumbi cited two reasons. “Firstly, the bank has to match its assets and liabilities. The bank is itself expected to honor repayments on amounts it has borrowed and hence it cannot completely cancel borrowers’ loan repayments. Secondly, the bank is duty bound to recover its capital and the interest in order to make additional loans.”
He noted that DBN operates like a revolving fund, lending money to enterprises to grow and to develop infrastructure. “Collected repayments from these borrowers are used for on lending the money again to finance a new wave of borrowers. The collection of a large proportion of the bank’s current loan book is critical for the sustainability and very existence of DBN.”

Measure impacts
He went on to say that beneficiaries of the moratorium must make management accounts available to the bank and explain the direct and indirect impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on their businesses.
The regular provision of financial records to the bank, Inkumbi said, is a normal requirement in the bank’s contracts with borrowers, so he noted that he does not expect difficulties, and added that as 31 March is year-end for many companies financial statements should be in preparation for many of the bank’s borrowers. He urged those with different year-ends, to have their accountants or bookkeepers draw up preliminary statements.
Although the bank is accepting and assessing applications for finance through remote working practices such as email, the bank will take into account the impact of the lockdown on new borrowers and appropriate repayment grace periods will be considered.
Inkumbi urged enterprises to reconsider their business concepts and operational models and make adjustments where possible to minimize the impact of the lockdown on the business expenses in particular, and prepare to continue with business in the near future as the lockdown is hoped to end at some point.
With regards to the N$500 million SME stimulus announced by the ministry of finance, Inkumbi said the bank is in close consultation with the minister to raise the required capital and how to implement this relief measure. He said that an announcement on implementation will be made by the bank in the very near future.
“Although Covid-19 is disrupting the economy, it is vital to focus on recovery and resumption of economic activity. This will rest on all pillars of the economy but particularly Namibian enterprise. We are in this together, and by working together, we will emerge stronger,” he concluded.

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