Banks in Seychelles to ensure continued operations in case of larger COVID-19 outbreak
Financial and banking institutions in Seychelles are re-organising their operations to ensure continuity in their services to the public amid the COVID-19 public health measures, said a top official.
The governor of the Central Bank, Caroline Abel, told a press conference on Friday that since last year financial institutions such as banks have been facing challenges in their operations due to COVID-19.
“They have been creating working groups to alternate in case the virus spread among their staff. This is to ensure continuity in the service that the banking sectors are providing,’ said Abel.
It is for this reason that the public is being encouraged to use other banking facilities such as ATM and other digital platforms instead of queuing in long lines in banks.
Abel said that the “public can use any ATM machines to do their transactions without any cost incurred. If we can make use of these other channels, it would be an advantage as it will be safer.”
She also talked about the treasury bonds that the government has put in place for its 2021 budget and said that as of January 10, there have been 538 application worth SCR720 million ($34 million) from private businesses, individuals and financial institutions.
The Seychelles’ 2021 budget is a little over SCR 11 billion ($519 million), around SCR 1.8 billion more than the 2020 budget The governor said that Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has a reserve of $536 million, out of which $397 million can be spent and calculations show that this reserve can sustain the country for 18 months.
“In terms of the exchange rate market, there has been a small improvement on supply compared to demand for February and this is helping us to stabilise the exchange rate,” she said.
However, Abel said that the drastic change in the exchange rate is taking a toll on the rate of inflation in the country and that is impacting the price of commodities.
As of Thursday, $1 was worth SCR21.60 and €1 stood at SCR26.17 on average.
With the downturn in tourism, which is the top economic contributor to the island nation, impacting heavily on various businesses, a credit line was made available by banks.
According to the CBS board, the credit line needs to be reviewed every three months and the last one was in November last year.
“We are supposed to return before the board in March. Prior to that, we are consulting with the private sector and already they have put forward some recommendations which we are going to bring forth in our next meeting with the board. We are also including the government since they have put a guarantee for the credit line,” said Abel.
With the abolition of the Financial Assistance for Job Retention scheme, CBS is anticipating that this year, demands for the credit line will rise.
Statistics released by CBS shows that most of the credit is going to big businesses in transportation, commerce and tourism, which have been the most affected by the impact of COVID-19.