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(LEAD) S. Korea to extend loan maturity again for pandemic-hit firms, merchants

All News 09:13 September 15, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS remarks, details in paras 3-5)

SEOUL, Sept. 15 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's financial regulator said Wednesday local banks will extend loan maturity and delay interest payments again for smaller firms and merchants hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Local lenders have decided to extend the measures by another six months until March next year, Financial Services Commission Chairman Koh Seung-beom said in a meeting on small merchants.

To help support small merchants, state-run financial institutions will supply liquidity worth about 4 trillion won (US$3.4 billion), Koh said.

A fourth wave of the pandemic, which has lasted for more than two months, has dealt a heavy blow to food, tourism and retail businesses, Koh said.

Although the measures are extended, financial authorities will also come up with a plan to "orderly normalize" pandemic-era stimulus schemes, Koh said.

Since March last year, lenders have extended loan maturity for small and medium-sized enterprises and smaller shop owners by six months twice to help ease their financial burden caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Smaller merchants and self-employed people have suffered extended business slumps as the face-to-face service segments have taken a beating from the pandemic.

This file photo shows bank officials consulting with customers seeking to get loans at a lender in Seoul. (Yonhap)

kdh@yna.co.kr
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