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KUALA LUMPUR: More than a quarter of approved small and medium enterprise (SME) loans were to first-time borrowers during the first half of this year, while approved loans to young SMEs -- those established for not more than three years -- made up almost 20 per cent of the total volume of SME loans approved.
This is helping to sustain business activity, particularly as businesses seek to pivot their operations or pursue new business opportunities in response to the immediate and foreseeable longer-term impacts of the pandemic, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) said here today.
Overall outstanding SME loans grew by 6 per cent (December 2020: 9.6 per cent), with approval rates for SME loans improving to 77.3 per cent (December 2020: 73.3 per cent; five-year average: 82.8 per cent ).
Financing for investment-related activities, which will expand the productive capacity of SMEs, continued to grow albeit at a more moderate pace (June 2021: 2.4 per cent; December 2020: 7.6 per cent), BNM said in its Financial Stability Report for First Half of 2021 released today.
Meanwhile, financing for working capital increased by 9.2 per cent (December 2020: 12.3 per cent), driven primarily by the consumer-facing sectors such as wholesale and retail, hotels and restaurants, and transportation sectors which continued to face headwinds in the challenging environment.
BNM’s Fund for SMEs is also helping to further support lending to SMEs.
The fund, which allows banks to offer financing at concessionary rates by reducing banks’ cost of funds and enhancing borrowers’ credit profiles through pre-packaged guarantees, currently represents about five per cent of outstanding financing to SMEs, compared to the pre-pandemic average (2015-2019) of two per cent.
In addition, banks also leveraged other credit guarantee schemes provided by Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia Bhd (CGC) and Syarikat Jaminan Pembiayaan Perniagaan Bhd (SJPP).
"About seven per cent of outstanding financing to SMEs is backed by credit guarantees under these schemes. This remains markedly higher than the pre-pandemic level (2015-2019 average: four per cent), reflecting greater caution by banks until there is better visibility on the performance of SME loans that are currently under repayment assistance,” said BNM.
SME borrowers have also been more hesitant to take on additional debt unless necessary. These factors are serving to contain risks from increased leverage among SMEs despite higher borrowings for working capital induced by the pandemic, it added. - Bernama