Saudi central bank extends deferred payment program for SMEs

The programme, meant to support SMEs during the COVID-19 pandemic, was launched in March 2020

Image used for illustrative purpose.

Image used for illustrative purpose.

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DUBAI- The Saudi central bank said on Tuesday it is extending a deferred payment programme to help small businesses impacted by the coronavirus crisis by another period of three months, starting July 1.

The programme - meant to support micro, small, and medium enterprises affected by precautionary measures during the COVID-19 pandemic - was launched in March 2020.

Since then, the value of deferred payments has totalled 167 billion riyals ($44.53 billion), the bank said in a statement.

The economy of the world's biggest oil exporter was hit hard by the twin shock of last year's historic oil price crash and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recent official data showed the economy shrank 3% annually in the first quarter, due to a sharp drop in oil output.

But the non-oil economy - at the centre of Vision 2030, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's transformation plan to wean the Saudi economy off oil - grew 2.9% in the first three months of the year as many coronavirus restrictions were eased. ($1 = 3.7499 riyals)

(Reporting by Maher Chmaytelli and Davide Barbuscia; Editing by Alex Richardson) ((;))

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