Serb Central Bank Amends Bad Debt Rules to Boost Credit

Serbia’s central bank has amended rules on bad debt, allowing lenders to transfer non-performing loans from their portfolios to third parties and release funds for greater credit activity.

Non-performing loans stood at 399.5 billion dinars ($4.6 billion) at the end of the third quarter this year, accounting for 19.9 percent of banks’ credit portfolios, according to central bank data. Loan-loss reserves stood at 127.9 percent of all non-performing loans.

“Considering that the high level of problematic loans is to the greatest degree a consequence of late loan repayments by companies, new regulatory solutions allow banks to cede the claims” in line with international practice and standards, the Belgrade-based Narodna Banka Srbije said in an e-mailed statement today.

It also called on banks to “invest additional effort” and “restructure claims against companies that have a chance to recover despite difficulties.”

“This will release significant funds that banks have so far set aside in loan-loss provisions and enable an increase in credit activity through financing of good projects and clients,” the central bank said.

The new rules, taking effect on Dec. 31, will also allow banks to determine the creditworthiness of their retail clients based on income and loan track-record, allowing them to be more flexible in determining customers’ credit risk, it said.

Credit activity in Serbia rose 2.4 percent in the third quarter compared with the previous three-month period, as the government released subsidies to banks to encourage them to offer cheaper loans to corporate clients.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gordana Filipovic in Belgrade at gfilipovic@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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