The Small Business Administration will apply more lenient rules in dealing with borrowers who are having financial difficulty because of the Persian Gulf war.

Stan Nakano, SBA district director for Utah, said he has received word from the SBA administrator that Americans called to active military duty because of Operation Deseret Storm shouldn't worry about defaulting on SBA loans.The SBA directive goes beyond what is required under the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act of 1940. Under that law, interest rates charged to civilian reservists called to active duty on loans incurred before their callup must be reduced to 6 percent during the period of active duty if the borrower requests it.

It also declares a moratorium on foreclosure actions against these borrowers during their active duty and for up to three months after, Nakano said. The law applies to sole proprietorships, not to corporations or partnerships.

Because the law does not cover all circumstances in which SBA borrowers may suffer financial hardship as a result of the war, SBA Administrator Susan Engeleiter has instructed SBA field offices to review payment problems on a case-by-case basis.

Nakano said anyone who believes they may have payment problems on their SBA loan should contact his office at 524-3220.

The leniency program applies to borrowers whose loans are serviced by SBA, including disaster loans, direct business loans and loans purchased from conventional lenders by SBA.

Nakano said the liberalized rules will not apply to most conventional loans guaranteed by SBA because the agency cannot compel commercial lenders to adopt a more lenient approach than provided by the Soldiers' and Sailors' Relief Act.