China banks ordered to write off bad loans from quake 12:46, May 24, 2008 China's banking regulator has ordered banks to write off timely bad loans caused by the devastating May 12 earthquake. The move was aimed at reducing debt burden of the survivors and helping the relief and reconstruction efforts in the quake-ravaged regions, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) said in a statement on its Web site. "If borrowers suffered huge losses that can't be covered by insurance, or if the insurance or guarantees are not enough for the debts, the loans should be regarded as bad loans and written off in a timely manner," said the statement. The CBRC also ordered banks to write off timely bad credit card loans whose holders and guarantees, dead or missing in the quake, have no other property assets to pay back loans. Zhang Yun, vice president of the Agricultural Bank of China, said the preliminary estimate put the bank's bad loans from the quake at 6 billion yuan (863 million U.S. dollars). The lenders were also urged to reduce losses from the quake as much as possible and provide enough bad loan provisions. The banks had extended more than 6.5 billion yuan of loans by May 21 and agreed to lent out a total 82.66 billion yuan (11.9 billion U.S. dollars) to the hardest-hit southwestern province of Sichuan for relief and reconstruction, the CBRC added. Chinese government had also allocated 14.629 billion yuan in relief funds for the quake- ravaged regions as of Friday noon. The CBRC and the People's Bank of China have earlier urged banks to extend loan maturities and not to push for loan repayment if debtors in the quake-hit regions fall behind in payments. Giving full consideration to the difficulties of the survivors and businesses, the lenders also should not levy fines for defaults or add default notices to borrowers' credit records, the two agencies noted. The known death toll from the magnitude 8.0 quake had risen to 55,740 as of Friday noon, according to the Information Office of the State Council, while another 24,960 were still missing. (one U.S. dollar=6.9498 yuan) "Source: Xinhua"
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