SARB published the guidance note (3/2021) on the distribution of dividends on ordinary shares and payment of cash bonuses to executive officers and material risk-takers, in light of the pandemic and the temporary regulatory capital relief provided by the Prudential Authority. The guidance note outlines the need for banks to act prudently when considering making the said distributions in 2021. This guidance note replaces the guidance note 4 from 2020 and is relevant for all banks, branches of foreign institutions, controlling companies, eligible institutions, and auditors of banks or controlling companies.
The note specifies that benefits of the regulatory relief measures provided by the Prudential Authority in 2020 should not be utilized for the distribution of dividends and payment of bonuses. on dividends and bonus payments in response to COVID-19. SARB considers it critical that banks continue to fulfil the fundamental role of providing the required funding, among other things, to households and businesses amid the pandemic. Thus, it is essential that banks continue to appropriately conserve capital to retain their capacity to support the real economy in an environment of heightened uncertainty that continues to be caused by COVID-19 pandemic. The Prudential Authority expects banks to take into consideration the adequacy of their current and projected capital and profitability levels, internal capital targets, risk appetite, and current and potential future risks of the global pandemic when making distributions of dividends on ordinary shares and payments of cash bonuses to executive officers and material risk-takers in 2021. The responsibility for approving the distribution of dividends on ordinary shares and the payments of cash bonuses to executive officers and material risk-takers ultimately rests with the board of directors of a bank. In those instances where bank boards of directors do approve the distributions of dividends on ordinary shares and/or payments of cash bonuses to executive officers and material risk-takers in 2021, payout ratios should be prudent and commensurate with the assessment of the current conditions and potential future uncertainty.
Keywords: Middle East and Africa, South Africa, Banking, Dividend Distribution, COVID-19, Remuneration, Regulatory Capital, SARB
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