Support measures ease pressure on banks’ credit profiles: Fitch

Tuesday, 6 July 2021 01:51 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Fitch Ratings said yesterday that the Sri Lankan banks’ performance in 2020 and 1Q21 exceeded its initial expectations thanks to stimulus and regulatory relief measures, but risks to the banks’ performance and operating environment remain due to pressures stemming from COVID-19 and the sovereign credit profile.

Fitch said Sri Lankan banks’ loan growth in 2020 dipped below historical averages due to subdued private credit demand and reduced appetite for new lending. 

“We expect moderately higher loan growth in 2021 as private credit demand picks up, alongside a possible resumption in economic activity combined with increased state borrowings,” the rating agency added.

It said asset quality remained a key risk as regulatory relief measures are unwound. This should see credit costs in 2021 at least as high as in 2020, but overall profitability could rise from further deposit re-pricing and the likely pick-up in lending.

State banks’ capital buffers have come under pressure from rapid loan growth, while private banks’ remained broadly intact on the back of a faster pace of earnings retention and capital-raising by some banks.

Banks’ funding profiles remained largely unchanged, although the share of foreign-currency funding in total funding continued to decline, to 21% by end-1Q21 (2019: 23%). 

“We expect foreign-currency funding in terms of both access and pricing to remain challenged in 2021,” Fitch added. 


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