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Banks given higher credit growth targets

Update: August, 18/2012 - 09:24

 

Small businesses get preferential loans

HCM CITY — Banks gave away loans worth VND122 billion (US$5.8 million) on preferential terms to 15 small and medium-sized enterprises based in HCM City's suburban district of Go Vap on Thursday.

The borrowers are in the textile and garment, health, pharmaceuticals, construction, plastics, export, and support industries.

The loans range from VND2 billion to VND15 billion at rates of 11 to 13 per cent, and are for terms of up to a year.

The lending banks were Dong A Bank, Viet Nam Industry and Trade Bank or VietinBank, Sai Gon Commercial Bank or Sacombank, Bank for Investment and Development of Viet Nam, and Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development or AgriBank.

Truong Quang Minh, chairman of the Go Vap District Business Association, said the banks' financial support would create an impetus for the companies' operations.

He urged the lenders to provide further support to SMEs, especially those manufacturing consumer goods and processing farm produce. — VNS

HA NOI — The State Bank of Viet Nam has increased this year's credit-growth targets for a number of commercial banks, hoping to spur lending to struggling enterprises dealing with high inventories and sluggish markets.

The adjustment followed State Bank Governor Nguyen Van Binh's announcement on Thursday that credit institutions would be urged to help boost the nation's economic growth in the second half of the year.

Of the nation's 62 credit institutions, 23 wanted to increase their credit growth quotas. The State Bank has agreed to increase the quotas for 10 banks with lending totals in the first half of the year outpacing quotas.

Earlier this year, the State Bank divided banks into four groups depending upon their performance in the prior year. Banks were allocated credit growth quotas according to their group designations. Group 1 (healthy banks) were given a target of 17 per cent, while Group 2 (average banks) received a target of 15 per cent, Group 3 (below-average banks) a target of 8 per cent. Group 4 (weak banks) were not allocated a credit growth quota.

Average credit growth higher than 15-per-cent was deemed inflationary.

In the first half of this year, however, credit in the commercial banking sector grew by an average of just 1.51 per cent over the previous year, with 69 credit institutions seeing credit decline while 57 others saw growth.

To ease enterprises' access to credit, interest rates have also been lowered. The proportion of outstanding loans in Vietnamese dong with interest rates in excess of 15 per cent per year has fallen to about 29 per cent of total lending, a decrease of 60 per cent since the State Bank asked commercial banks a few weeks ago to refinance outstanding loans at rates below 15 per cent.

The lower interest rate of 15 per cent was aimed at getting banks to share difficulties with enterprises, reducing their profit margins to ensure economic stability. A number of enterprises have remained reluctant, however, to take out additional loans.

"Low interest rates are no longer a vital factor in attracting enterprises," Eximbank general director Truong Van Phuoc told the newspaper Nguoi Lao Dong (The Labourer) yesterday. "Low purchasing power has made them cautious."

According to an Eximbank analysis, Phuoc said, interest costs currently accounted for 24 per cent of business expenditures.

The sharp decrease in lending rates has not spurred businesses to increase borrowing because purchasing power in the market remained depressed, economists agreed. As of the end of July, outstanding loans at commercial banks had risen only 0.57 per cent over the end of last year despite lending interest rates falling from an average of 17-18 per cent to 10-15 per cent.

Many economists have called for new policies to stimulate consumer demand, criticising policymakers for focusing too much on fighting inflation, leading to rapid increase in unsold inventories and an economic slowdown.

With deposit interest rates now average 9 per cent per year and lending rates held below 15 per cent, some have argued that banks have favourable conditions to reduce lendings rates further, to 11-12 per cent.

However, financial specialist Nguyen Dac Hung noted that banks have to allocate 3 per cent of profits for compulsory reserves and maintain a 10-per-cent payment reserve, as well as cover operating costs.

Rising bad debts have also cut into bank profit margins. Some experts have suggested the Government allow commercial banks to write off bad debts against capital reserves. — VNS

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