Tuesday, 31 March 2020 00:32

ACCC green lights banks to cooperate on loan relief, services during COVID-19 Featured

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The ACCC has provided a second, conditional, interim authorisation for the Australian Banking Association (ABA) and banks to co-operate to provide supplementary relief packages for individuals and businesses affected by COVID-19.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says the interim authorisation is conditional on banks providing details of any programs and arrangements to the Commission before implementation, and seeking its approval in some circumstances.

“As required by the condition, the ABA has provided details of a business relief package whereby the banks agree to defer the principal and interest payments for loans by commercial property landlords, as long as they do not terminate the leases or evict the tenants,” the ACCC says, adding that “this will apply to loans of up to $10 million, with larger loans to be considered by individual banks on a case-by case basis”.

“We recognise the public benefit from enabling banks to respond quickly to provide a relief packages to businesses and individuals affected by the pandemic,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

Sims said banks will also be able to coordinate to ensure customers can access services, including, where possible, some counter services, in a range of locations and at various times.

“Individual banks can still offer more favourable and tailored terms to business customers outside of this proposed agreement.

“The conditions provide transparency over what is proposed and if major concerns are identified, the ACCC is able to revoke the interim authorisation, or require amendments.”

The interim authorisation applies to all ABA member banks who agree to participate, and will also be allowed to cooperate in support of future government initiatives.

The ACCC is now seeking feedback on the ABA’s application for interim authorisation as well as the substantive application.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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