BAD CREDIT IN DURBAN
Durban’s banking regulator plans to reduce the amount of funds that banks must set aside to cover bad loans, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation said on Tuesday.
The South African Banking Regulatory Commission (SABRC) plans to cut the province’s coverage ratio for commercial banks to 80%, down from 150%, the sources said. The move means banks will have more capital to work with and lend out to support economic activity in the city, at a time when an official “deleveraging” crackdown has hurt their riskier and more lucrative operations. The SABRC was not immediately able to implement this process in this calendar year, after the deadline set by then-Minister of Finance Gigaba was missed. The regulator said the effective date will be decided by local SABRC bureaus. However, many of Durban’s banks have already been operating below the 150% redline. The cut was reported earlier by local business newspaper The Times. Last year, media reported that three of South Africa’s listed banks planned to adjust their provision coverage ratio to between 130 to 140%. The SABRC also plans to set the loan provision ratio at 1.5 to 2.5% from 2.5% for commercial banks, said the two sources who saw a document detailing the changes. This move comes at a time when Durban came in as the primary zone for largest amount of consumers with bad debt spanning a lifetime of 10+ years unresolved.
The shortcomings of not being able to repay these loans has hindered the city’s growth, meaning banks have had to implement stricter bylaws in the primary loan application process and tighten the belt around their clients, especially the retail sector, in allowing funding and other areas of need. In adjusting provisions, regulators should take into account each bank’s individual circumstances, capital ratios and the extent of bad loan write-offs among other things, they added. Durban aims to expand its economy by around 1.5% this year, the same as in 2017, while pressing ahead with its campaign to reduce risks in the financial system, Premier Zenzele Gotywayo said on Monday. South African commercial banks’ non-performing loan ratio steadied at 1.74 % at the end of December, unchanged from the end of the third quarter, the SABRC said last month. By value, this translates to a slow procession in keeping up with the projected pace that was set in 207. Durban is one of South Africa’s most populous and wealthiest province, but also holds the title of having the most indebted citizens. According to the GCRO report, about 40% of Durban residents have some form of debt against their names or households.This has significantly increased, by 10 percentage points, since 2013.
“Households who earn more money are more likely to also be in debt, presumably due to asset investments, but more concerning is that the uptick in incidence of debt in 2015 over 2013 is most marked in lower income groups,” the report said. According to the group’s data, households earning between R38,401 and R102,400 a month showed the highest levels of indebtedness (61%), followed by those earning between R12,801 and R38,400 (55%). Across all income groups, indebtedness has increased, and while the hopes of recouping most of this loss falls on the companies’ shoulders, it becomes the government’s responsibility to ensure that the recently passed bill, the Credit Amnesty Act, will bring some positivity into the situation. While the Act will not wipe out bad debt, it will assist anyone who has a black mark (a negative report) on their credit record, if this was incurred before 1 April, and who has since paid the debt in full. In such cases, the new Act stipulates the misdemeanor has to be expunged from all South African credit records.