The nation’s biggest bank, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, has opened its vaults to pledge up to $50 million in concessional loans for agribusiness customers caught by catastrophic flooding across large areas of North Western Queensland.
CBA will set reduced variable interest rates on business term loans of up to $2m each for eligible farm sector customers needing funds for re-stocking, property repairs or flood damage mitigation work.
The bank is also offering asset finance for terms up to five years at a reduced fixed interest rate and with reduced documentation fees.
The offer is to eligible new and existing customers who apply by May 15.
We understand affected graziers will have additional costs and working capital needs, and we hope access to funds at a reduced rate will give them some peace of mind
Customers who have their homes insured with CommInsure have also been offered emergency accommodation assistance and priority help with claim processing on contents and motor vehicle insurance.
CBA’s Queensland general manager of regional and agribusiness banking, Kerry McGowan, said early February’s storms and flooding in North Western Queensland had caused extensive damage to regional communities, including many grazing operations.
“We understand affected graziers will have additional costs and working capital needs, and we hope by offering customers access to funds at a reduced rate will give them some peace of mind,” he said.
“Supporting our customers in this time of need is our number one priority.”
Customers were urged to discuss their individual circumstances by speaking with their relationship manager or to visit their nearest Commonwealth Bank branch as soon as they could.
“I’d encourage customers to contact their banker to understand the range of assistance available,” Mr McGowan said
The latest support measure followed a recent emergency assistance offer for customers in Townsville and surrounding areas.
Last week CBA also removed default interest rate charges from its business term loans for agribusiness customers hit by natural disasters who were unable to make repayments on time.
The bank’s support measures on offer in flooded North West Queensland would be assessed on a case by case basis.
It is considering requests for additional loans, including emergency credit limit increases and loan restructuring for business customers with existing loans.
It will also waive charges and notice periods for affected customers wishing to access term deposits before they mature and waive other selected fees and charges.
For retailers and farm service providers the bank will waive fees for temporary and damaged merchant EFTPOS terminals, as well as merchant fees until trading recommences.
Commonwealth Bank recently donated $100,000 to activate a drive in nationwide fundraising to support communities in disaster affected areas.
Funds raised will support the Australian Red Cross in its emergency work for communities affected by floods in Queensland, and the recent fires in Tasmania and Victoria, as well as other emergencies as they happen.
“We live in a country where people look out for their mates,” Mr McGowan said.
“Anybody across Australia interested in supporting the many communities affected by these natural disasters can donate at their local Commonweatlh Bank branch or via CANGive in the CommBank App.”
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