World Economy

Thai Bank Loans to Rise

 Q3 growth this year was above 4%. Q3 growth this year was above 4%.

Thai commercial banks’ loans may grow close to 4% this year, while non-performing loans are expected to peak in the final quarter of the year, a senior central bank official said on Friday.

In August, the central bank said banks’ loans could expand 4-6% this year. Last year, loans rose just 2%, the smallest pace in seven years, Reuters reported.

“This year’s loan (growth) should be close to 4%, the low end of a 4-6% range,” Daranee Saeju, senior director of the Bank of Thailand’s financial institutions strategy department, told a news conference, citing some other sources of funding as a factor.

But loans are expected to pick up in the final quarter of the year, due to improving economic conditions and seasonal factors, she said.

In the January-September period, banks’ loans increased 3.3% from a year earlier, she said. Banks’ NPLs rose slightly to 2.97% of total lending at the end of September from 2.95% at the end of June, the BOT said.

The central bank in September upgraded its economic growth forecast to 3.8% for both 2017 and 2018. But on Wednesday it said the economy was expected to expand at a faster pace than previously projected.

Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy grew 3.2% last year, less than regional peers.

The Thai economy is expected to continue its growth momentum next year with more economic reforms after estimates put the third-quarter growth this year at above 4%, deputy prime minister, Somkid Jatusripitak, who was speaking at a seminar on “Transforming the Economy–Thailand Economic Outlook 2018: An Era of Business Transformation”, said Thursday.

Last Wednesday, Bank of Thailand’s monetary policy meeting held the policy rate at 1.50%, citing satisfactory economic expansion and would likely revise up its 2018 economic forecast later this year.

The MPC’s estimates are in line with all economic agencies including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund as well as Thailand’s National Economic and Social Development Board which predicted the Thai growth to be better than expected.

“The economy has seen a marked improvement from three years ago. This environment will support reforms,” Somkid said. Next year, the agricultural sector will be a major issue, given the drop in prices of some agricultural products, he said.

Similarly, low-income earners would be taken care of through promotion of e-commerce, while start-ups and small and medium enterprises would be financially supported by government Savings Bank and SME Development Bank of Thailand which would act like local banks closer to customers’ problems, he said.

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