PUBLIC sector banks are unlikely to meet credit growth targets set by the ministry of finance under the statement of intent (SoI) targets set at the beginning of the fiscal. Bankers feel the sluggish growth this year is unlikely to pick up in the last quarter.
“Though we are well into busy season, the credit offtake has lagged behind compared to last year. No miracles are expected, though corporates have initiated their capex plans. In any case, growth in advances cannot be immediate. A slowdown was anticipated in wake of recession fears in US, but it will have a marginal impact," the chairman of a large PSU bank said.
SoI targets were fixed in the beginning of the year keeping in mind prevailing conditions then. The situation has changed since. Banks are unwilling to meet credit growth targets this year, he added. Every financial, the government spells out a target on 16 parameters for PSU banks referred as Statement of Intent (SoI).
"The situation holds true for most banks with average credit growth for banks in the range of 21%. The busy season between October to the end of the year registers a significant credit offtake. Banks had re-adjusted their lending and deposit rates at the onset of the busy season in order to spur demand, but it has not boosted credit offtake as much as it was expected to," an Indian Banks Association (IBA) source said.
Banks' credit growth in the second half of the current financial year has remained subdued following the series of monetary tightening steps taken by the Reserve Bank of India in the last three years. RBI projected a credit growth of 24-25% in 2007-08 compared with nearly 30% witnessed by banks last year.
The ministry of finance had earlier proposed to scale down credit growth targets for PSU banks to around 20%, after some of the banks had written for a downward revision. However, in its quarterly review of the credit policy in October, RBI did not revise the credit growth targets. "Aggregate credit demand is arrived at by indicators based on the credit needs of the industry, infrastructure requirements among others," an official said.
According to RBI data, banks have been witnessing a substantial slowdown in credit demand in the financial year so far. As on December 7, bank credit stood at Rs 1,45,980 crore, a growth of 7.6% over the previous year against Rs 1,76,180 crore in 2006 with a growth in 11.7% over the previous year