* Virus loan scheme changes aimed at boosting take-up
* Blacklisting proposals could provide further relief
* Critics fear they will lead to deeper indebtedness
JOHANNESBURG, July 23 (Reuters) - South Africa's government
outlined on Wednesday changes to boost take-up of its 200
billion rand ($12 billion) coronavirus-related loan scheme and
said it might temporarily bar lenders from blacklisting
borrowers whose credit records have been hit.
In a document on budget adjustments in the wake of the
pandemic, the National Treasury said it had made changes to the
loan scheme to help more virus-hit firms benefit. Only 10.6
billion rand of the funds had been paid out by July 7.
Changes included replacing a cap on the turnover of eligible
companies with a 100 million rand limit on loan size, expanding
what the money could be used for and doubling the period over
which it could be drawn down to six months, it said.
South Africa's Department of Trade (DTI) said it was
consulting with lenders on proposals to prohibit blacklisting of
borrowers whose credit profiles had deteriorated and removing
adverse information from their records, until Sept. 30 or when a
national state of disaster ends, whichever came first.
"Government will carefully consider any proposals ... and
will take all views into account before making a decision," the
DTI said, adding Trade Minister Ebrahim Patel would not consider
the draft proposals until consultations were complete.
The consultation document, published by main opposition
party the Democratic Alliance (DA), said changes would be
backdated until April 1 and were aimed at those whose credit
profiles had deteriorated due to the national state of disaster.
The DA said the move would hit banks' lending appetite,
pushing up the cost of credit, and hurt already indebted
borrowers by enabling them to rack up more debt.
South Africa's six biggest lenders and the Banking
Association of South Africa had no immediate comment.
($1 = 16.5722 rand)
(Reporting by Emma Rumney; Editing by Edmund Blair)