Companies allowed to delay bank payments

  • Lusa
  • 18 March 2020

The measures presented by the Government to face the pandemic provides credit lines for companies in the most affected sectors.

Companies in Portugal are to have access to a moratorium, granted by the banking sector, on the payment of capital and interest, according to what was announced today by the minister of finance, and which is being worked on between the Bank of Portugal (BdP) and the banking sector.

“All the legislation that is necessary to implement this moratorium will be approved by the end of the month and will advance effectively to ensure, once again, that in this temporary period, we are all making our contribution,” Mário Centeno said.

The Eurogroup chairman also pointed out that the banks have already announced measures such as “the elimination of minimum fees charged to merchants for POS payments [‘Point of Sale’, automatic payment terminals,” so that everyone can “accept payments by electronic means without the need to set any minimum amount.”

“Although the possibility of paying in notes and coins is maintained, it is desirable that it be reduced to the minimum necessary at this stage”, added Centeno, also announcing that the ceiling for contactless card payments should be raised to 30 euros.

Asked by Lusa whether the granting of bank moratoria to companies would be extended to families, for example, in the payment of instalments on housing loans, Pedro Siza Vieira, said that “measures aimed at the situation of families will be communicated later.

“At this point, the key issue is to ensure that companies preserve that productive capacity so that at the time of the upturn they can meet the demand that is coming. This is the time to ensure liquidity for the economy to keep turning,” he said.

Pedro Siza Vieira said that the essential function of the support “is to alleviate the pressure of cash commitments towards the banks and the Social Security and Tax Authorities, and also to ensure sufficient liquidity to be able to maintain and preserve their productive capacity and protect jobs”.

Portugal announced on Wednesday a series of credit lines to support companies’ treasuries worth a total of 3 billion euros, aimed at the sectors most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

At a joint press conference of the ministries of finance and economy, broadcast online, the minister of economy announced a series of credit lines, guaranteed by the State, that leverage 3 billion euros to support companies.

These credit lines have a grace period until the end of the year and can be amortised in four years, Pedro Siza Vieira said.

In Portugal, the Directorate General for Health (DGS) raised the number of confirmed cases of infection to 642 on Wednesday, 194 more than on Tuesday.

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, called a Council of State meeting for today, to discuss the possible decision to declare a state of emergency.