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Longer Loan Repayment Deadline

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The deadline for victims of the devastating May 12 Sichuan earthquake who borrowed money and still can't pay it back has been extended by half a year, the central bank said.

Individuals in Sichuan Province who borrowed money from banks before May 12 and still couldn't pay back the loans before the end of last month can now enjoy an additional grace period of six months, the People's Bank of China said on its Website on Thursday.

Companies can enjoy a grace period until the end of this year to weather the aftermath of the natural disaster, the impact from the global financial crisis and the economic downturn.

Banks can charge individuals and companies a penalty after the grace period, the central bank said. The move is a follow-up as the central bank in August granted the quake-hit area a package of preferential policies, including fewer fees to be paid, preferential mortgage policy, no reserve increase, listing support and more credit.

In the August package, quake victims could enjoy a 10-percent down payment to buy homes. Before the relief, the down payment requirement was 40 percent for second home buyers or 30 percent for first home buyers.

Separately, central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan called for more risk control in managing China's foreign exchange reserves -- the world's largest -- against the global financial crisis.

Officials responsible for managing the reserves should conduct comprehensive market research and increase risk management this year, Zhou said in a statement on the Website of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange on Thursday.

(Xinhua News Agency January 3, 2009)

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