KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 14): Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) welcomes the Financial Management & Resilience Programme (URUS) by Agensi Kaunseling dan Pengurusan Kredit (AKPK) and the banking industry, which seeks to aid B50 borrowers with performing loans who have lost their jobs or who are experiencing income loss of at least 50%.

In a statement on Thursday, the central bank said eligible borrowers who wish to apply for the programme can approach their banks starting from Nov 15, 2021 to Jan 31, 2022.

"BNM has been working with AKPK to put in place a holistic debt management and financial planning solution. The aim is to provide appropriate support to borrowers so that they not only meet their loan obligations but importantly, return to a firmer financial footing.

"This will strengthen the financial resilience of borrowers in the longer term," said governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus.

Meanwhile, the central bank also encouraged those that are not eligible for URUS to also approach their banks to discuss other repayment solutions that suit their financial circumstances.

It said borrowers and customers facing any difficulty with their applications may contact BNMTELELINK at bnm.my/RAsurvey to seek assistance, and that they may obtain more information on the new scheme by visiting banks' and AKPK's websites.

There will be further enhancements to BNM's Fund for SMEs in the Budget 2022, added the bank, targeted at assisting businesses in their cash flow management and reposition themselves with the reopening of the economy.

Despite heightened credit risks, BNM said bank financing to SMEs continues to expand with the additional capacity provided through the fund and credit guarantee schemes.

A total of RM154 billion was disbursed to SMEs, 4% higher than the pre-pandemic level, with a total of RM18 billion allocated under the fund to augment financing by the banking system to SMEs.

Loans outstanding for the SME segment increased 6% year-on-year, it said, and efforts are underway to develop debt equity and blended financing initiatives to enable SMEs access to a wider range of appropriate financing options across their growth cycle.

"This will be important to lower the leverage and strengthen the long-term resilience and capacity of SMEs, and increase their contribution to the economy," Nor Shamsiah said.

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