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Thai central bank sees no surge in bad loans after policy rate hike

BANGKOK (CNA) – Thailand’s central bank said yesterday it expected no surge in bad loans despite a hike in the benchmark interest rate and urged banks to gradually adjust their rates to help vulnerable groups.

Banks’ non-performing loans (NPLs) should gradually rise, helped by debt support measures, said Senior Director at the Bank of Thailand (BOT) Suwannee Jatsadasak during a news conference.

“We still don’t expect the cliff of NPLs under the support measures available,” she said, referring to large debt defaults in a very short time.

Banks’ NPLs stood at 2.88 per cent of total lending at the end of June, slightly down from 2.93 per cent at the end of March, due to debt restructuring and banks’ loan management, she said.

The support measures remain sufficient to help debtors affected by the pandemic, rising living costs and higher interest rates, Suwannee said.

Thai Baht banknotes are shown in Bangkok, Thailand. PHOTO: AFP

However, vulnerable groups such as low-income earners and smaller businesses are a worry, she said.

Last week, the BOT raised its key interest rate for the first time in nearly four years, by 25 basis points to 0.75 per cent, to curb inflation and signalled further gradual hikes.

While the BOT wants to see the transmission of the policy rate, banks have been urged to gradually adjust their rates to help exposed groups, Suwannee said.

With high levels of capital, loan-loss provisions, and liquidity, the banking system remains resilient and can provide loans to support the country’s economic recovery, she said.

Banks’ loans grew 6.3 per cent in April-June from a year earlier.

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