Last Updated on Thursday, 1 October, 2020 at 9:22 am by Andre Camilleri
The Malta Development Bank (MDB) has over the past few months established and maintained a strong presence in the Maltese economy by providing the necessary support to businesses during these troubled times. Liquidity has been one of the biggest challenges for local entrepreneurs, and by supporting access to credit, the MDB is providing a lifeline to these businesses and at the same time helping the country’s economic recovery.
The MDB is now supporting businesses impacted by COVID-19 with a portfolio of three mutually supportive facilities.
The first scheme, the COVID-19 Guarantee Scheme (CGS), is a guarantee that the MDB is providing to commercial banks so that they can provide working capital loans of up to €777.8 million to support all types of businesses. The benefit of the guarantee passes on to the businesses in the form of lower interest rates, lower collateral requirements, longer repayment periods and a moratorium on capital and interest.
The second incentive is the COVID-19 Interest Rate Subsidy Scheme. This provides a grant of up to 2.5 percentage points on the interest payable on the same CGS loan for the initial two years of the scheme. The borrower can pay an interest rate as low as 0.1%, net of the guarantee fee. This instrument, combined with the CGS, effectively reduces the cost of borrowing to a negligible level, hence making credit both accessible and cheap.
The third instrument is the Small Loans Guarantee Scheme (SLGS), which came on stream last month. Principally, the SLGS is a facility designed to support smaller businesses to access credit facilities up to €250,000 for working capital purposes. The scheme has been purposely designed with the understanding that one of the main barriers to finance, especially for start-ups and SMEs, relates to difficulties associated with high collateral requirements. The scheme addresses this constraint by allowing smaller businesses to source loans under the MDB COVID-19 Guarantee Scheme (CGS) without the need to provide high levels of soft collateral (personal guarantees). Through the SLGS, the MDB provides additional protection to intermediary banks and, in turn, banks reduce soft collateral requirements to a maximum of 20% of the loan value. This scheme provides an important additional impetus to SMEs which are the backbone of the Maltese economy.
Since banks have valid reasons for asking for additional collateral in certain cases, the SLGS is also mindful of the intermediary banks’ interest, offering them protection on their credit risks. Additionally, in order to ensure the maximum take-up of this scheme, guaranteeing that as many businesses share the benefits being made available, the MDB has announced that the SLGS will apply retroactively: if a business has already concluded loans with participating intermediary commercial banks under the MDB COVID-19 Guarantee Scheme, it can now apply to renegotiate the previously submitted security under the terms of the SLGS.
Since the launch of the COVID-19 response facilities in April, the MDB guarantee scheme has now supported over 400 businesses, with loan facilities reaching more than €285 million, thus helping in safeguarding the jobs of more than 15,000 persons. However, we cannot rest on our laurels, and as our COVID-19 fund is far from exhausted, we must strive to continue reaching out and supporting local businesses. To this end, we encourage local entrepreneurs to approach their preferred commercial banks, to seek help and learn more about these attractive schemes.
COVID-19 is a crisis that has shaken the global economy to its roots. Through our package of support and revitalisation schemes, the MDB is doing its utmost to support the local private sector in restarting economic activity. The significant take up so far provides just cause for optimism, but our efforts will remain focused to ensure a wider participation by local entrpeneurs.