LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s central bank (SAMA) said on Sunday that it had extended a deferred payment program to support private sector financing for an additional three months until June 30 as part of measures to stem the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy.

SAMA said that the decision aims “to empower the financial sector to play its role in supporting the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) sector, and contribute to supporting economic growth and preserving employment in the private sector.”

A statement published on the central bank website also said a guaranteed financing program had been extended for an additional year until March 14, 2022 to support small and medium enterprises.

SAMA said the extensions are also aimed at enhancing the central bank’s contribution in supporting MSMEs, and enabling them to overcome the challenges that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic and the precautionary measures adopted to confront them.

The decision is in line with the central bank’s role in “maintaining monetary stability, supporting the stability of the financial sector, enhancing confidence, supporting economic growth, and mitigating the financial and economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic on various economic activities.”

SAMA said around 99,000 contracts have benefited from the deferred payment program since March 14, 2020, amounting to SR124 billion ($33.04 billion).

It also said that over 5,000 contracts benefited from the guaranteed financing program, valuing over SR8 billion.

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