Turkish state lenders support economy amid COVID-19

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Turkish state lenders -- Ziraat, VakıfBank and Halkbank -- announced packages for supporting economic activities in Turkey, following the recommendations of the Turkish Banking Association (TBB) to tackle the effects of COVID-19 pandemic.

TBB recommends easing credit access and providing flexibility to all lenders for their customers "who need additional loans due to a provisional disruption in their revenues-expenses balance, have difficulty in the timely repayment of their liabilities, have the intention to repay their debt on time."

Three banks said in separate statements that they will postpone loans of individuals and firms and also provide flexibility to their customers.

Banks will provide long-term postponements of up to 12 months for some sectors which were affected by the outbreak the most, such as tourism and public transportation.

Firms will be given extra credit limit for easing their check payments and operation costs.

Ziraat and Halkbank will open a special credit line for the next three months to continue paying personnel salaries, but on the condition that these firms do not drop the number of employed staff.

Berat Albayrak, the Turkish finance and treasury minister, said state lenders fulfill their responsibilities as part of the measures to reduce the effects of the pandemic on the economy, prevent falls in employment, and keep the labor market alive.

According to data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University, the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 has infected over 343,400 worldwide, killing more than 14,700, while nearly 100,000 have recovered.

The virus emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December, and has spread to more than 180 countries and territories. The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a pandemic.

China, Italy, Iran, and Spain continue to be the worst-affected countries.

Despite the rising number of cases, the vast majority of people contracting the virus suffer mild symptoms before making a recovery.

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