The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) took a number of decisions and measures on Sunday to contain the economic repercussions of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The decisions included the bank’s immediate provision of credit limits necessary to meet import operations financing for basic and strategic commodities in a manner that ensures the demands of importing companies, especially food commodities.
The decisions also included providing the necessary credit limits to finance working capital, especially the disbursement of salaries, in addition to studying and monitoring the sectors’ most affected by the spread of the virus and developing plans to support the companies working in them.
CBE has also decided to postpone the installments of loans to micro, small, and medium projects for a period of six months, without applying additional returns and fines on late payments.
The decisions also included developing urgent plans to increase credit limits with foreign banks, in order to ensure the continued provision of funding for foreign trade operations.
The CBE urged banks to take a number of measures to counter the emerging Coronavirus (COVID-19). At the top of the list came spreading awareness among bank employees, providing disinfectants, establishing a mechanism for sterilisation, continuous disinfection, vaporising banknote safes, enhancing ways to use technology as an alternative to meetings (Video or phone calls), compelling employees to disclose their whereabouts when traveling outside the country and giving them compulsory vacations upon return, as well as expanding the use of electronic means to circulate documents inside and outside the bank (scanners, e-mails), and providing devices and equipment for early detection of the virus.
the CBE stated that banks should provide the central control department in the CBE with a business continuity plan with a maximum of two working days, provided that it includes identifying the administration and the person responsible for implementing the plan, the sites that are used to recover data, information, systems, and alternative headquarters to conduct activities if they cannot be performed as usual. Banks should also update the department with precautionary measures to avoid the spread of infection, especially when it is proven or suspected that a bank employee has been infected. They should also provide updates about the availability of technological infrastructure to ensure that the banks can provide their services free of trouble.
Instructions included continuing the work of call centres at banks to respond to customer inquiries, the immediate feeding ATM machines, carrying out periodic maintenance, and communicating with money transfer companies to ensure business continuity, in addition to maintaining customer deposits to form large banknote reserves, working on replacing cash withdrawals in large amounts with transfers or bank checks, exempting customers from bank charges resulting therefrom, canceling fees and commissions applied to points of sales, ATMs and electronic wallets for a period of six months, increasing the daily limits for dealing with debit and credit cards, and urging customers to carry out bank transactions through electronic channels and cards instead of cash transactions.
The CBE stressed that the instructions come in line with the state’s trend with regard to the new Coronavirus, in order to ensure the safety, security, and stability of the banking sector and customers to ensure that banks carry out their activities. Banks should also continue the role assigned to them to support all sectors of the national economy. The CBE believes in the importance of banks taking preventive and precautionary measures to ensure business continuity and provide customer banking needs. The CBE stressed that it monitored conditions and developments at the local and international levels to intervene immediately by taking any measures necessary to maintain banking and monetary stability.