KARACHI: In order to facilitate the health sector in its fight against COVID-19, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has enhanced financing limit by 150 percent for a single hospital or medical center under the Refinance Facility for Combating COVID-19.

The SBP last month announced a “Refinance Facility for Combating COVID-19 (RFCC)” and its Shariah compliant version to support hospitals and medical centers in combating the spread of COVID-19.

Under this scheme, the SBP announced to refinance banks to provide financing at a maximum end-user rate of 3 percent for 5 years for the purchase of equipment to detect, contain and treat the coronavirus.

All hospitals and medical centers registered with federal or provincial health agencies and which are engaged in the control and eradication of COVID-19 are eligible for this facility.

In the background of rising cases of COVID-19 in the country and with the need to strengthen the health sector in its fight against COVID-19, the SBP on Friday enhanced financing limit of a single hospital/medical center by 150 percent or Rs300 million under its Refinance Facility for Combating COVID-19 (RFCC).

According to a previous announcement, a maximum financing limit per hospital or medical center was Rs200 million, which has now been enhanced to Rs500 million. The total size of the scheme is Rs5 billion aimed to help contain the spread of the coronavirus and reduce its human toll. It is available until the end of September 2020.

The RFCC is an emergency funding facility to support hospitals/medical centers to develop their capacities for treatment of infected patients of COVID-19. The financing under this facility is being made available by the State Bank at zero percent to banks that can charge a maximum rate of 3 percent per annum to hospitals/medical centers.

The State Bank has been continuously improving features of this facility to ensure timely financial support to hospitals/medical centers engaged in combating COVID-19. So far, financing of Rs2.2 billion for 11 hospitals/medical centers has been approved whereas financing requests of Rs3.6 billion for 23 hospitals/medical centers are being processed by the banks.

With current enhancement of financing limit, it is expected that large-scale facilities will be created for treating COVID-19 patients by using subsidized funding being extended under this facility.—RIZWAN BHATTI