I am glad to meet you all. It is the first time to bring together the leaders from all of the Republic of Korea’s private and state-owned financial institutions. This is because we are in such an emergency economic situation. We have invited you together to express our gratitude for your playing great roles recently and to encourage us to find greater strength together.
Finance is an inseparable partner for all businesses and people in economic activities. Now is the most important time for finance to play its role when all businesses and people are struggling their hardest to respond to the crisis that the COVID-19 outbreak has brought to the entire world. Financing can be compared to medical professionals at infectious disease prevention and control sites. Just as their dedication can save patients’ lives, proactive finance can resuscitate businesses, microbusiness owners and the self-employed. I am very grateful to the financial sector for doing its best to fulfill its role with such an understanding.
The Government decided on the 100-trillion-won emergency financial measures during the 1st and 2nd Emergency Economic Council meetings. Had it not been for active support from the financial sector, we would not have been able to come up with these measures. Unlike previous financial measures taken during past economic crises, the measures this time have been put in place preemptively, ahead of the emergence of a full-fledged crisis. The scale of support has also been beyond market predictions.
These measures cover microbusiness owners, SMEs, mid-market companies and large businesses as well as all sectors such as loan and guarantee, corporate bond and call money markets. The financial community’s active participation and cooperation have made it possible to prepare most of the policies, including the extension of loan principal due dates, deferment of interest payments and the raising of stabilization funds for bond and securities markets. The COVID-19 outbreak is weighing heavily on the financial sector as well, but the united effort by that entire sector has enabled those policies. I extend my profound gratitude once again.
Countermeasures have been prepared well, but what is more important is to implement them in the right place at the right time. Microbusiness owners and the self-employed, who have suffered the first direct hits from the COVID-19 outbreak, still find it very difficult to secure loans. I ask you to attend to this matter in particular.
For microbusiness owners, businesses are none other than their livelihoods. The going may become tough as you are all inundated with work, but I believe that you will be able to understand well that speed is especially important because it’s an emergency fund for those who are facing immediate threats to their day-to-day living.
It is also necessary to ensure that sufficient financial support reaches businesses in need in a timely manner. We have to protect domestic businesses from the shock of COVID-19 so that it will be possible to safeguard people’s jobs and livelihoods. It’s crucial to make sure that funding is provided in a swift and smooth manner on the frontlines or at bank windows.
Many difficulties may arise while carrying out the task of providing funds on the frontlines. In particular, unintended missteps can occur in the process of actively supplying funds. In this regard, in the absence of any deliberate malfeasance in particular, the Government or financial authorities will not hold financial institutions or individuals accountable. I clearly promise this.
Additional measures may be necessary depending on how the situation unfolds going forward. Even if more difficult circumstances present themselves, I am confident that we can overcome this crisis and our economy’s resilience will become stronger once the Government takes the lead and the financial sector joins in. Since the Bank of Korea decided to provide sufficient liquidity to back the efforts of the financial sector, it will be of great help if the financial industry continues to stand together.
It is said that one’s true nature reveals itself at a moment of crisis. I’d like to see financing be a source of hope for the people and businesses in this time of crisis. I hope that it will be a reliable umbrella for companies that are currently caught in a fierce rainstorm. The Government will attentively listen to the financial industry’s difficulties and actively provide assistance if necessary.
I strongly support today’s joint declaration to surmount the COVID-19 outbreak from the Government and the financial industry’s labor and management. I am also deeply grateful to the Korean Financial Industry Union for joining us. I am looking forward to hearing financial institution leaders give complete, frank opinions today if there are suggestions for the Government.