The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) announced, on Sunday, a set of preventive measures in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, in order to ensure the safety, security and stability of Egypt’s banking sector as measures are implemented to slow down the spread of the outbreak.
A statement from CBE said that all banks will immediately provide the necessary credit limits to meet the financing of import operations for basic and strategic commodities, and will ensure that the demands of the importing companies are met, especially related to food commodities, to cover the needs of the market.
In instructions to banks operating in the local market, CBE ordered the cancelling of fees and commissions applied to sales and withdrawals from ATMs and electronic wallets for a period of 6 months.
CBE instructed banks to provide the credit limits necessary to finance working capital, or the capital of a business used in its day-to-day trading operations, especially the payment of salaries for companies’ employees.
It also ordered banks to monitor the sectors most affected by the spread of the virus, to develop plans to support companies operating during the outbreak, and to postpone the credit entitlements for medium, small and micro companies for a period of 6 months.
The Central Bank of Egypt also instructed banks working on the local market not to apply additional fines for late payments, and to put in place urgent plans to increase credit limits with foreign banks in order to ensure the continued flow of necessary financing for foreign trade operations.
Egypt’s Health Ministry has confirmed 126 cases of coronavirus in the country so far and two deaths. The government has moved to close schools and universities across the country for two weeks and has halted large public gatherings in an effort to slow down the outbreak.
On Sunday, senior scholars from Al-Azhar gave their approval to a measure that would suspend Friday prayers, and the Endowments Ministry has shut religious shrines across the country. Meanwhile, the Coptic Orthodox Church has moved to suspend church education services and other related activities, while officials say mass will be given multiple times a day to reduce overcrowding.