Banks up lending to ‘risky’ borrowers

Banks loaned out an extra Sh25 billion to individuals in three months even as they insisted the rate cap made it difficult to price such borrowers.

Between July and September last year, lending to the personal/household sector increased by four per cent to Sh661 billion from Sh635 billion extended to this category in the second quarter, according to a new report by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK).  

“The personal/household sector recorded the highest increase in lending of Sh25.49 billion during the period under review due to increased loans granted to individual borrowers,” read part of the July-September Quarterly Economic Review.

SEE ALSO :Private sector activities fall to 3-month low as exports dip

This was an increase of seven per cent compared to the third quarter of 2017 when credit to individuals stood at Sh617 billion, an indicator that banks are getting used to the continued existence of interest rate cap and lending to a sector they have described as risky.  

However, total banking sector lending during this period grew at a slower rate of 1.8 per cent, to Sh2.53 trillion from Sh2.49 trillion in the second quarter. 

Lending to financial services and energy and water sectors, on the other hand, declined by 2.2 per cent and 1.9 per cent respectively. Credit extension to the real estate sector plateaued at 0.03 per cent.

For More of This and Other Stories, Grab Your Copy of the Standard Newspaper.

Jibran Qureishi, the regional East Africa economist at Stanbic Bank, said the four per cent growth in credit to individuals during this period - which has since averaged 5.5 per cent between September 2018 and January 2019 - is “very uninspiring.”

“Historically we have done as high as 25 per cent,” said Qureishi. He explained that banks had to put money where there was the least risk. Those who received credit from lenders, according to Mr Qureishi, were most likely less risky. “The question is: What if the rate cap wasn’t there? It (credit to individuals) would have been more spectacular,” he explained.

SEE ALSO :Inquest told of teller's last moments

In its 19th edition of Kenya Economic Update, the World Bank intensified its assault against the interest controls introduced in 2016, calling for their repeal so as to easily price loans for risky small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and individuals.

Do not miss out on the latest news. Join the Standard Digital Telegram channel HERE.

Stanbic BankKenya Economic UpdateWorld Bank