Bank Regulation

Singapore Loosens Banking Rules Amid COVID-19 Economic Turmoil

Singapore Loosens Banking Rules Amid COVID-19

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said on Tuesday (April 7) that it will allow banks more leeway with regulatory requirements and programs so that financial institutions (FIs) can do more to boost business during the coronavirus crisis.

In a prepared statement, the country’s central bank and financial regulator said the “banks have sufficient capital to see them through the current economic slump while continuing to supply credit to the economy to support businesses and individuals.”

Justifying its move, the central bank said: “Banks in Singapore can afford to do this because they have managed their businesses prudently and have built up healthy capital buffers over the years.”

The central bank did not move to “restrict banks’ dividend policies.” However, it said that “sustaining lending activities should take priority over discretionary distributions,” adding that “the release of capital buffers should not be used to finance share buybacks during this period.”

One goal, the Singapore institution said, was to “adjust banks’ capital and liquidity requirements, to help sustain their lending activities.”

The central bank said it would also allow “more latitude on submission timelines for regulatory reports … and suspend regular on-site inspections and supervisory visits till further notice.”

The MAS’ actions come after the nation enacted a third round of stimulus. The fresh round, in the amount of $3.6 billion, brought the total package pledged by Singapore to $41.7 billion.

“We are facing an unprecedented crisis of a highly complex nature,” said Heng Swee Keat, Singapore’s deputy prime minister and minister of finance. “In economic terms alone, this will likely be the worst contraction since independence.”

While Singapore had avoided some of the harsh lockdown measures seen around the world, it was forced to shift gears on Friday (April 3). The country said it was closing schools and most workplaces for a month as part of the fight against COVID-19.

In a speech to Singapore’s Parliament, Keat said the latest stimulus would target wage subsidies for companies, rental waivers and cash payouts for all Singaporean adults.

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