New lending regulations worry small firms
Small-sized enterprises are concerned that they would have to borrow from credit institutions at higher rates when a new lending regulation takes effect next month.
Under a circular issued by the State Bank of Viet Nam (SBV), which comes into effect on March 15, lending rates applied by credit institutions will be fully floated, except in five special fields: agriculture and rural development, high-tech industry, export, small- and medium-sized enterprises, and supporting industries.
The lending interest rates of bank loans will be based on agreements between the credit institutions and customers, the circular said, and the SBV will remove the available lending rate cap stipulated under the Civil Code of 2015, which set a maximum lending rate of 20 per cent "unless otherwise specified by other relevant laws."
The new circular, which replaces a 2001 decision, is expected to develop the country’s lending activities in accordance with international practices, besides improving their transparency.
Experts have so far hailed the new regulation, saying that it will help the country’s lending meet the requirements of a market economy as the lending activities will mainly depend on market demand and supply, and the credit worthiness of customers.
However, some firms, especially small ones, are so far concerned that they will have to borrow bank loans at higher rates.
Though agreeing that the new regulation is in accordance with market mechanism, director of a logistic firm, who declined to be named, said that he was concerned about his firm’s loans next time, as it would be hard for his firm to be able to compete against large firms who have better credit worthiness.
Nguyen Bang Tam, chair of the enterprises group at HCM City’s Binh Thanh District, which is home to many SMEs, told Dien dan doanh nghiep (Enterprises Forum) newspaper that the removal of lending cap was in accordance with the market mechanism; however, it might cause unfair access to bank loans for small-sized firms, as they have to compete with large firms.
However, Tam have also urged firms to take measures to build up their firms better to be able to get bank loans at the most reasonable rates.
Vice chairman of the Viet Nam Pepper Association Phan Minh Thong said that one of the solutions was to focus on building the financial reports of firms, which should be audited by prestigious organisations to be able to get bank loans at reasonable rates.
Credit institutions often give high grades and credit worthiness to firms with financial reports audited by prestigious organisations, Thong said, adding that the firms therefore would likely get their loans at good interest rates.
Representatives of the Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises Association said that with the regulation, firms can consider mobilising capital from securities market if the interest rate is too high.
Financial expert Nguyen Tri Hieu said that Viet Nam needs to further develop the bond market to help firms mobilise medium- and long-term capital sources, instead of focusing only on bank loans.