On April 29, one Jack Chua took to Facebook to share about a queue he had seen at a back lane in Clementi after a day at work.Along with a photo of the store name, Chua mentioned that these people were queuing up to borrow money from a licensed moneylender.
A quick check reveals that Alpha 8 Pte Ltd is indeed a licensed moneylender that provides financial services like cash loans, business loans and more.
Chua surmised that these people were borrowing money due to the economic impact of Covid-19.
He also questioned why the shop was still operating by its back door, even though its front was closed like all the other shops.
Are moneylenders considered an essential service?
According to GoBusiness, services "relating to maintenance of monetary and financial stability" are considered essential services.
In response to queries by Mothership, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and Ministry of Law (MinLaw) have confirmed that "licensed moneylenders who have obtained general exemption are allowed to continue with limited operations during the circuit breaker period."
However, they have to "adhere to strict safe distancing measures" and are "subject to limited operating days and hours".
Here is their statement in full:
"Licensed moneylenders provide access to credit to persons who may otherwise turn to unlicensed moneylenders. Licensed moneylenders who have obtained general exemption are allowed to continue with limited operations during the circuit breaker period.
As with other businesses which are permitted to operate, licensed moneylenders are to adhere to strict safe distancing measures. In addition, licensed moneylenders are subject to limited operating days and hours, to further minimise the risks of transmission."
Top image via Jack Chua on Facebook and Google Maps