By the end of March, credit limits had been set for 86 percent of accounts with overdraft provisions at the country's five largest banks in accordance with new debt management rules, the Bank of Israel said Wednesday. Private account holders were doing a much better job making arrangements that was the business sector, the central bank noted. "The combination of a lack of settled [overdraft] limits among business clients and the high rate of accounts exceeding [their limits] is liable to cause damage to these businesses two months from now if they do not hurry and settle credit limits with [their commercial] bank," admonished Banks Supervisor Yoav Lehman. Beginning July 1, checks and other obligations related to accounts exceeding their credit limits will not be honored. While 21% of private accounts exceeded their credit limit at the end of last month, fully 39% of small business accounts and 42% of large business accounts were in excess. Lehman advised holders of accounts exceeding their limits to either "fit the excess into the limit" or handle it through an alternative funding plan. Holders of accounts subject to unilateral credit limits placed by banks must also sign their consent to the limit by that date, the central bank stressed. Credit limits have been placed on 69% of large business accounts (of which 50% were agreed between the bank and client and 19% set unilaterally by the bank) and 83% of small business accounts (of which 79% were agreed and 4% unilateral). Among private accounts, 87% have credit limits, of which 54% were agreed between the bank and the client and 33% were set unilaterally by the bank. Lehman also advised account holders to begin respecting any credit limits already set now, and even maintain a cushion, in order to avoid "superfluous expenses and difficulties" once the deadline is reached. Lehman's office "sees great importance in the banking system's preparations toward implementing the order, and will continue to follow its progress so that by July 1 - with the expiry of the extension granted - no accounts exceeding [the credit limit] ... will be operating," the central bank said Though the new rules legally came into effect in January, a six-month extension was granted in late December due to the low number of accounts for which credit limits had been set by then. No further extension will be given, the Bank of Israel warned. By the end of January, 73% of affected accounts had credit limits, of which 53% were set mutually between the bank and client and 20% unilaterally by the bank. Of the nearly 5 million bank accounts in Israel's five major banks, just over 3.2 million current accounts and overdraft facilities require the establishment of the new credit limit - 2.8 million private accounts and 396,000 business clients - including accounts in which clients are permitted to go into overdraft, even if they do not actually do so, the central bank noted. Four percent of accounts requiring overdraft limits are either "problematic" or inactive and must be brought out of debt or closed by the banks.