In a relief to borrowers at the onset of the festive season, the government on late Friday night announced waiver of interest on interest for loans up to 2 crore irrespective of whether moratorium was availed or not.

Supreme Court on October 14 directed the Centre to implement “as soon as possible” interest waiver on loans of up to 2 crore under the RBI moratorium scheme in view of the COVID-19 pandemic saying the common man’s Diwali is in the government’s hands.

This will come in form of the grant of ex-gratia payment of the difference between compound interest and simple interest for six months period from 1 March to 31 August.

“The undersigned is directed to convey that in view of the unprecedented and extreme COVID-19 situation, the Central government has approved “Scheme for grant of ex-gratia payment of the difference between compound interest and simple interest for six months to borrowers in specified loan amounts (March 1, 2020, to August 31, 2020). Benefits under the scheme would be routed through lending institutions,” the Ministry said in an official order.

How will the relief be extended

The relief will be extended through financial institutions like banks, non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), NCFC – Micro Finance Institutions, National Banks for Agriculture and Rural Development, housing finance companies, National Housing Banks, etc.

This comes after the Supreme Court directed the Central government to implement the interest waiver on loans of up to 2 crore as soon as possible observing that it is not fair on the government’s part to delay the implementation of its decision.

Eligibility criteria for the compound interest waiver scheme

Borrowers in the segments — MSME loans, education loans, housing loans, consumer durable loans, credit card dues, automobile loans, personal loans to professionals and consumption loans — who have loan accounts having sanctioned limits and outstanding amount not exceeding 2 crore as on February 29, 2020, will be eligible under the scheme.

“The rate of interest would be as prevailing on February 29, 2020, in case the rate of interest has changed thereafter, it shall not be reckoned for the purposes of this computation. They payable ex-gratia amount shall have to be credited to the account of the borrower by the respective lending institutions as ex-gratia payment under the scheme,” the order said.

It said that the exercise of crediting the amount in the respective accounts of the eligible borrowers by the respective lending institution shall be completed on or before November 5.

“After the exercise has been completed, lending institutions can lodge their claim for reimbursement latest by December 15, 2020. Claims shall be submitted to designated officers/ cell at the State Bank of India. SBI is advised to appropriately equip its designated officers/cell for processing such claims in a timely manner and to notify details of the same on its website,” it added.

The top court, which posted the matter for hearing on November 2, told the advocates appearing for the Centre and banks that “Diwali is in your hand”.

The Centre recently told the apex court that going any further than the fiscal policy decisions already taken, such as waiver of compound interest charged on loans of up to 2 crore for six months moratorium period, may be “detrimental” to the overall economic scenario, the national economy and banks may not take “inevitable financial constraints”.

Supreme Court is hearing a batch of petitions which have raised issues concerning the six-month loan moratorium period announced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bench, also comprising Justices R S Reddy and M R Shah, said when authorities have decided something then it has to be implemented

* With agency inputs

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