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Opinion Updated: 06 April 2020

Time to step up and make a difference

Carlos Torres Vila, Group executive chairman of BBVA, analyzes the situation caused by the COVID-19 crisis in an OpEd piece published in newspaper editions from Spanish group Vocento.

Over a third of the world’s population is currently on lockdown. COVID-19 has generated a health crisis that has forced governments around the world to take unprecedented measures. Saving lives is, and must be, the priority.

Now, more than ever before, it is essential that everyone -- government officials, companies and society as a whole -- joins forces and acts in coordination to fight against this pandemic and alleviate the economic impact of the quarantine measures. There’s no time to waste.

Companies can, and should, contribute all of our resources, our management capacity, to the cause. That’s why since the very beginning, at BBVA we have concentrated on direct aid and the purchase of critical healthcare materials, which, thanks to collaboration with other companies, is now arriving in Spain.

"Banks play a very significant role. We are an essential part of the solution"

Although tackling the health crisis is the most urgent matter, it is also necessary to work in unison to mitigate its social and economic repercussions, and start preparing for the recovery now. Properly designing the gradual removal of lockdown measures will be vital to ensuring that the negative economic impact on Spain’s growth is compensated with higher growth as soon as possible.

The return to normalcy will not be automatic, nor guaranteed, particularly in some sectors. It will depend greatly on whether we are capable of preventing the paralysis of the productive sector, companies closures and ultimately, job cuts.

Banks play a very significant role. We are an essential part of the solution. It’s time to step up and make a difference, helping society overcome this situation.

And that is exactly what we are doing, supporting our customers and clients now, when they need it most. Banks immediately rolled out a series of different initiatives, some jointly, others individually.

We are providing our customers, both individuals and companies, easy payment terms, such as payment deferrals and flexibility for different types of loans. We have suspended certain fees, and we are making financing available for the self-employed, SMEs and companies, while collaborating with government-backed programs to ensure that companies continue having access to credit. And we aren’t stopping there. Every day, our efforts are focused on protecting economic activity and jobs, with a special focus on our suppliers.

These difficult times also bring out the best in people, companies and society. Every day I see so many examples of dedication, heroism, and commitment that I am sure that with everyone’s efforts, we will emerge from this crisis stronger, having grown as people and society.