KARACHI: In light of the deteriorating situation of healthcare in Pakistan, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has extended its refinance facility to hospitals serving non-Covid-19 patients.
In a statement released on Monday, the SBP stated, “To cope with the rising needs of the health facilities in general in the country, SBP has allowed hospitals serving patients even other than Covid-19 to avail this facility.”
Additionally, the refinance facility now allows manufacturers of protective gears and equipment, including items such as masks, dresses, testing kits, hospital beds, and ventilators, to avail the scheme.
On March 17, the SBP had introduced a refinance scheme titled ‘Refinance Facility to Combat Covid-19 (RFCC)’, which was designed to support the health sector during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Under this scheme, the SBP provided loans to banks at 0pc, which could then charge a maximum rate of 3pc for five years to hospitals and medical centres who need a loan to buy medical equipment and set up isolation wards. The scheme is available until end-September 2020.
The scheme’s coverage was partially extended on April 6, while the maximum refinancing limit was increased on April 30.
The scheme has proven popular and necessary: since its inception up till July 2, Rs6.4 billion of concessional credit have been approved for hospitals to fight Covid-19.
As per the new circular, existing hospitals looking to expand, or brand new hospitals, can also avail the refinance facility. This is provided they meet certain minimum requirements such as 50 bedded tertiary care, 24 hours fully equipped emergency, in-house laboratory facility, and ICU with ventilators, among others.
The SBP noted in its statement that the scheme was a highly subsidized facility, and that “some of the banks treating this as part of their CSR are keeping margins very low.”