KARACHI: Private sector borrowing through banks went up by 80 per cent in the first eight months of the current fiscal year, reflecting accelerated economic activities in the country.
Though the government is not optimistic about economic growth rate, the pace of borrowing from the private sector indicates economic activities are higher than they were in the previous fiscal year.
The State Bank’s latest data shared on Monday showed that the private sector borrowed Rs352 billion during July to Feb 19, FY21. This was 80.5pc higher than the borrowing of Rs195bn made during the same period in FY20.
Bankers said the first quarter of the new fiscal was largely under the negative influence of Covid-19 which appeared in March 2020 but the borrowings started from the second quarter of FY21.
However, the pace of borrowing rapidly increased during the last three months. The previous fiscal year was badly damaged by the pandemic and the private sector almost stopped borrowing in the last quarter of FY20. So far the private sector borrowing has increased by Rs157bn or 80.5pc till Feb 19 from July 1.
The private sector borrowing was just Rs196.3bn for entire FY20. The impact kept its hold in the first quarter of the new fiscal but the low number of coronavirus cases enabled Pakistan to accelerate its economic activities.
“Export orders are higher than last year but the record low cotton production is a hurdle for a significant jump in exports particularly textile exports,” said Aamir Aziz, an exporter of textile made-ups.
Conventional banking branches took the lead as they extended loans worth Rs195bn to private sector during this period compared to Rs73bn in the same period of last fiscal; an increase of 167pc indicating the higher activities in trade and industry.
Islamic banks also geared up their effort as their lending to the private sector jumped by125pc to Rs62bn compared to Rs27bn in the same period of last fiscal. The share of Islamic banking in the financial industry has been increasing for the last three years. In FY20, private sector borrowings from Islamic banks was Rs33bn reflecting the trend of these financial institutions for lending.
However, the Islamic branches of conventional banks maintained their lending trend to private sector. So far the private sector borrowing from Islamic branches of conventional banks was Rs95.2bn compared to 94bn in the same period of last fiscal.
Despite higher borrowing by the private sector, the government also borrowed heavily from the scheduled banks during the current fiscal FY21. For the first eight months of the current fiscal total borrowing crossed the Rs1 trillion mark compared to Rs861bn borrowed in the same period of last fiscal.
“Since the deposits of banks have increased significantly, the banks are eager to invest in government papers while the government is facing a larger fiscal deficit,” said a senior banker, adding that the government borrowed largely through Pakistan Investment Bonds (PIBs).
The banks’ investment in long-term investment bonds (PIBs) increased by Rs1.216tr to Rs14.102tr during the first half of FY21.
Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2021