Credits took up the defense - Newspaper Kommersant No. 14 (7459) of 01/26/2023



The statistics of the Bank of Russia on lending to small and medium-sized businesses partly confirmed the "mobilization" decline in the issuance of loans to entrepreneurs in November. Earlier, the interlocutors of Kommersant talked about the growth of refusals to receive loans due to the so-called mobilization risks. They are connected, among other things, with the fact that in the event of the death of a mobilized person, his debts on loans, according to the decision of the government, should be written off at the expense of banks. With the completion of the mobilization, the situation with the availability of debt financing began to look somewhat different - now SME borrowers often do not "choose" already issued loans, fearing that they will not be able to service them.

The volume of loans to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in November decreased by 13% compared to October and amounted to 962 billion rubles, the Central Bank said. In annual terms, the volume of loans in November increased slightly - by 2.6%, but this positive dynamics can be explained by the "base effect" (the last covid lockdown was in force in the country in November 2021).

November's failure in lending to SMEs partly confirms data on the increase in refusals to issue loans to small businesses at the beginning of partial mobilization. As Kommersant's interlocutors in banks reported, the requirements for borrowers of military age were then tightened. The average loan size in November fell to 4.7 million rubles. from 5.9 million rubles. in October. At the same time, the number of SMEs that received loans increased from 166.7 thousand to 181.1 thousand. Such multidirectional dynamics can be explained by the desire of banks to diversify risks.

During the period of mobilization, banks began to refuse citizens more often, since at any moment an absolutely reliable loan could become risky if a borrower was called. Representatives of business associations warned in autumn about the high risks of closure of micro-enterprises, in which almost all processes, as a rule, are tied to the business owner.

Let us recall that the government, as part of the business assistance package, provided for credit holidays for SMEs, but in the event of the death of a mobilized person or the disability of the first group, the debts of the borrower (as well as his family) are promised to be written off at the expense of banks. According to the Central Bank, banks can lose no more than 2% of their profits on this, experts estimated that loans worth trillions of rubles could be at risk (see Kommersant of September 27).

Now the opinions of Kommersant's interlocutors about the reasons for the decline in lending activity in November are divided. Pavel Samiev, a member of the Opora Rossii presidium, believes that the dynamics are not so clear-cut. “Although the level of approval of applications for loans was declining, and in October-November, banks, by inertia, were still issuing loans to SMEs on already approved applications, it is not entirely correct to talk about a slowdown. Both the volume of loans and the loan portfolio grew in November compared to 2021, in addition, almost record loans were recorded in October - 1.1 trillion rubles,” the expert says.

Pavel Sigal, First Vice President of Opora Rossii, agrees with the assumption that mobilization has affected the availability of loans for SMEs. “Banks began not only to be cautious, but also to impose restrictions on the issuance of loans due to the obligation to write off such debts in case of a negative outcome,” he notes. According to him, in January the problem began to look a little different: borrowers themselves do not “choose” signed and executed loans. They fear that they will not be able to serve them: some because suppliers will not pay them for completed contracts, others because they will not be able to fulfill contracts due to a disruption in the supply of raw materials and components. At the same time, some entrepreneurs, those who work under contracts with the state (including the military), do not need loans. “As a result, it turns out that there is liquidity, but there is no one to issue loans. Borrowers are afraid that they will not be able to pay off and ruin their credit history, banks do not want to accumulate bad debts,” says Pavel Sigal.

Diana Galieva



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