SBP extends refinance facility for hospitals, creates helpline

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KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan has introduced further relaxations in the ‘Refinance Facility to Combat COVID-19’ hospital scheme, and started a new helpline for citizen support, according to two statements released on Monday.

The Refinance Facility to Combat COVID-19 (RFCC) was launched on March 17 during the first monetary policy announcement held last month. Under that scheme, banks were to be provided Rs5 billion at zero per cent, who can then lend to hospitals at 3pc for five years for new equipment.

According to the SBP, hospitals and medical centres can now avail financing against their existing equipment and purchase of refurbished equipment as well, provided the equipment in question is being used to create a special facility or isolation ward to deal with COVID-19.

Previously, the maximum coverage of civil works for setting up an isolation facility was set at 60pc; this has now been increased to 100pc.

The SBP has also told banks to keep their call centers or helplines available 24/7 for instant customer support, and for lodging complaints.

In case complainants do not get an appropriate response from banks, they can now call the SBP helpline at 021-111-727-273, which will remain available during office hours.

The SBP has deployed more agents at its call center to deal with the increase in traffic.

The SBP said while banks and other financial institutions have been designated as essential services, banks must adhere to workplace safety guidelines issued by World Health Organization and federal and provincial governments for both its employees and its customers.

Finally, the SBP is also concerned about ‘fraudsters’ who have posed as SBP officials and have attempted to extract personal information from customers, like CNIC number, debit or credit card number, and passwords.

“It is reiterated that SBP, banks or any other agency are not collecting information from banking customers regarding their bank accounts or cards. SBP never asks for any personal information directly from bank customers,” the SBP said.

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