State funds to rollover debts owed by pandemic-hit merchants, small firms

Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said Thursday that state-backed funds will extend loan maturity and rollover interest payments again for smaller firms and merchants hit hard by the pandemic.

State-run agencies and funds set up to assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and micro business owners will extend the measures by another six months until March next year, Hong said.

The move follows similar measures taken by local banks as part of efforts to support smaller companies and merchants amid the latest flare-up in COVID-19 cases.

The country’s financial regulator said Wednesday that local lenders will extend loan maturity and delay interest payments by another six months until March next year for SMEs and micro business owners.

Hong also said the government will expand support to ailing small travel agencies to help them cope with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The minister also said the government will start a cash-back reward scheme for card spending in October.

The two-month program will allow people to receive card cash points equivalent to up to 200,000 won (US$171) if they increase their spending with credit cards.

Initially, the cash-back reward scheme centers on spending at offline stores run by small merchants, but the government plans to provide the benefit when it comes to online purchases as well.

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