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On 22 March 2020, the banks, the government and the Belgian National Bank developed a number of measures in order to provide maximum support to enterprises and private individuals during the crisis. On 31 March 2020, these measures were laid down in 2 charters, which were published by Febelfin:
The support measures for enterprises consist of two parts:
Suspension of repayment of capital for existing loans
If an enterprise wants to suspend the repayment of capital of outstanding loans, a specific procedure must be followed. This procedure will be different for each bank and will be explained in detail in our FAQ relating to the corona crisis as soon as more details are known.
It should be noted that not all enterprises qualify for this measure. For instance, enterprises must be able to demonstrate that they are impacted by the crisis and must not have been in arrears before the start of the crisis. All conditions relating to these measures are clearly described in the charter.
The charter also specifies the loans that qualify. The measures do not apply to leasing, for instance. However, this does not mean that the credit institution will not offer you a solution for the payment of the lease fees. Many banks are currently developing their own solution, giving you the possibility to suspend payment of your lease fees for six months or to cover these payments by means of a bridging loan. However, contrary to the traditional investment loans, the bank does not have any obligation to offer a solution for leasing agreements.
Complementary bridging loans
Bridging loans intended to over the liquidity gaps caused by the current crisis can be requested in the same manner as a traditional loan. The charter only applies if the enterprise is not able to offer sufficient guarantees to be granted the loan. SMEs that take out a loan within the context of the corona crisis, for instance, can benefit from the cheaper guarantee scheme provided by the government. However, a few conditions must be met in this respect. The term of the loan must be limited to 12 months and the interest rate cannot exceed 1.25%. If these conditions are met, the annual rate for the guarantee is 0.25% instead of the standard annual rate of 0.5%. The standard rate still applies to large enterprises. For more information, we refer to our FAQ about the corona crisis.
A similar charter has been developed for private individuals. This charter, which is also accessible with the above-mentioned link, relates to the repayment of mortgage loans. As is the case for professional loans, the repayment of capital of mortgage loans can be suspended for six months if certain conditions are met. For instance, the borrower has to be able to prove that their income is limited by the crisis. An additional condition is that at the time the request is submitted, the borrower(s) cannot have more than € 25,000 available on their bank accounts.
Obviously, you can always contact your account manager for guidance with your negotiations with the bank and to request the suspension of repayment of capital.