,Report: Banks play key role in sustaining recovery
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PETALING JAYA: Bank Negara has warned that Malaysia’s economic recovery could take a hit, if a pullback in bank lending becomes more pervasive due to heightened concerns over banks’ asset quality.
In its Financial Stability Review (FSR) for the first half of 2021 (H1’2021), the central bank revealed that since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the average value of new working capital loans extended by banks has dropped by about half compared with pre-pandemic levels.
This is amid the higher provisions for credit losses undertaken by banks in H1’2021, in anticipation of a deterioration in asset quality as repayment assistance programmes are gradually unwound.
Provisions are about 54% higher than the pre-pandemic level and have risen further to 1.8% as a share of total loans as at end-June 2021.
In comparison, the five-year average was 1.3%.
Despite the banking sector’s cautious risk appetite, Bank Negara said banks have continued to support financing to viable small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
During the first half of 2021, more than a quarter of approved SME loans went to first-time borrowers, while approved loans to new SMEs accounted for almost 20% of the total volume of SME loans approved.Bank Negara's in its Financial Stability Review (FSR) for the first half of 2021 (H1’2021), revealed that since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the average value of new working capital loans extended by banks has dropped by about half compared with pre-pandemic levels.
This has helped to sustain business activity, particularly as businesses seek to pivot their operations or pursue new business opportunities in response to the immediate and foreseeable longer-term impacts of the pandemic.
“Overall outstanding SME loans grew by 6% (December 2020: 9.6%), with approval rates for SME loans improving to 77.3% (December 2020: 73.3%, five-year average: 82.8%).
“Financing for investment-related activities, which will expand the productive capacity of SMEs, continued to grow albeit at a more moderate pace (June 2021: 2.4%, December 2020: 7.6%).
“Meanwhile, financing for working capital increased by 9.2% (December 2020: 12.3%), driven primarily by the consumer-facing sectors such as wholesale and retail, hotels and restaurants, and transportation sectors which continued to face headwinds in the challenging environment,” according to the central bank.
The FSR report pointed out that one in five SME loans or 21.6% underwent repayment assistance, up from just 7.3% in September 2020.