Big banks slash loan rates to help fishermen amid mass fish deaths

Several banks have taken measures to support fishermen along central coastal areas following mass fish deaths.

Agribank, BIDV and Vietcombank will cut interest rates on loans, stretch out debt repayments, reduce the amount of each payment and even offer zero-interest loans in a bid to help fishermen in the Central region to overcome the immediate aftermath of the mass fish deaths.

Partly-privately owned Vietcombank has pledged to cut annual interest rates on medium and long-term loans to 9 percent. Individuals who have suffered financially from the fish death crisis will be entitled to the rate cut.

Last Friday, Vietcombank was the first bank to trim rates to 10 percent on dong loans after the Prime Minister called on commercial lenders to cut lending rates in a bid to spur domestic business growth.

The country’s top lender BIDV has also set aside VND1.5 trillion ($67 million) so it can offer short-term loans at a rate of 6 percent and medium and long term loans at 8 percent to firms and individuals involved in the seafood industry.

Fishermen who have either built steel, high-capacity boats or upgraded their fishing vessels for deep sea fishing using loans from BIDV will be exempt from paying interest for the next six months. The lender will also extend the debt repayments over a longer term.

State-run Agribank estimated that about 6,000 firms and individuals in the central provinces of Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien-Hue and Ha Tinh, who had secured VND850 billion in loans from the lender, have incurred financial losses due to the disaster.

Statistics show that since April 25, farmed and wild fish have been washing up in massive numbers along the country's central coast. About 70 tons of dead fish have been reported so far.

The government told the media last week that there are two possible causes for the mass fish deaths. The first is the impact of toxic chemical substances discharged by humans on land or at sea. The second is a natural phenomenon known as “red tide” when harmful algae blooms at an abnormal rate and produces powerful toxins.

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