SINGAPORE (May 8): Since the strict circuit breaker measures kicked in in April, most local businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who are not considered essential services, have been struggling to remain afloat.

To support these businesses as well as individuals in need of urgent cash, Hong Leong Finance has rolled out several initiatives to help them receive their loans quickly as well as lowered interest rates per annum.

SMEs with affected cash flows are also able to apply to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)-supported Enhanced Enterprise Singapore Financing Scheme - SME Working Capital Loan (WCL), and the Temporary Bridging Loan Programme (TBLP).

Hong Leong Finance (HLF) has lowered interest rates per annum for the TBLP to between 2% and 3%, while that for the WCL has been reduced to be from 3% to 4%.

See also: MAS launches new facility to lower cost of loans to SMEs under the ESG Loan Schemes

On top of that, businesses and retail customers are able to defer payment of their loans up to Dec 31 this year for commercial property for businesses and residential property for retail customers.

The financial institution has also taken most of its applications and procedures online owing to safe-distancing measures.

On May 6, HLF reported that it has approved 500 applications from customers seeking COVID-19 loan relief applications. They comprise 300 applications from local businesses and 200 from retail customers. 

HLF expects to see a further increase following the latest announcement by MAS to ease cash flow concerns of individuals, which includes vehicle and commercial property loans. 

“We understand the financial pains that our customers are undergoing during this challenging period. We will do what we can to help them with loan relief schemes. We will also continue to do our utmost to support the second loan relief package,” says Ang Tang Chor, president of Hong Leong Finance.

“Operationally, we have introduced changes at our branches and SME Centres as precautionary measures, in line with safe distancing practices. These changes are necessary for everyone’s well-being. Let’s all stay united to combat COVID-19 together as one,” he adds.

 As at 4.33pm, shares in Hong Leong Finance are trading 2 cents higher, or 0.9% up, at $2.29.