According to several business owners, Moroccan banks are not doing enough to protect companies from bankruptcy.
Rabat – In response to criticism targeting Moroccan banks and their COVID-19 response, the Professional Group of Moroccan Banks (GPBM) has issued a statement stressing their “firm determination” to actively participate in the national effort to curb and manage the pandemic’s impact.
“The Moroccan banking sector quickly became involved in the national effort to prevent and manage the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on the medical, social, economic, and financial levels,” said the statement, published on Monday, April 20.
Banks were among the first institutions to react to the novel coronavirus outbreak in Morocco by implementing several measures to ensure the safety of their staff and their customers, said the document.
The measures included installing plexiglass protection in their agencies, supplying masks, organizing customers’ access to reception desks, and disinfecting ATMs.
Moroccan banks have also updated their information systems and business continuity plans to ensure the proper functioning of their services, especially through remote working, during the country’s lockdown period.
The financial institutions urgently implemented the measures prescribed by the Economic Monitoring Committee to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, added the press release.
The measures included the postponement of loan payments for businesses and households who are facing financial difficulties. In only two weeks, Moroccan banks processed nearly 400,000 deferral requests with a rejection rate of approximately 4%.
Banks have also mobilized to distribute the financial aid given to Moroccan workers who suspended their activities due to the COVID-19 crisis, continued the statement. Every day, more than 200,000 people access their stipends through ATMs, money transfer agencies, and banks.
The GPBM also slammed the “unjustified criticism” that targeted Moroccan bank employees, who are “brave soldiers,” risking their own safety to ensure the continuity of banking services.
The statement came after Moroccan radio personality Mohamed Bousfiha, known as Momo, called bank employees “brainless” on his talk show “Wach Nta F Dar?” (Are you home?) broadcast on Hit Radio on April 17.
Momo made the comment after a participant in the show said that she could not benefit from the exceptional measures implemented for the benefit of Moroccans stranded abroad. In order to comfort her, the radio presenter attacked people working at banks.
The GPBM, in coordination with Morocco’s central bank, Bank al-Maghrib, will continue to monitor the measures implemented by banks and will “spare no effort” to facilitate the work of banks, either through monetary policy or prudential regulation, the statement concluded.