An employee counts Chinese one-hundred yuan banknotes at the Bank of China Hong Kong Ltd headquarters in Hong Kong, Nov 12, 2016. [Photo/VCG]
The nation's top economic regulator has held a closed-door meeting with major banks to finalize a draft guideline aiming to lower small companies' borrowing costs, according to people familiar with the matter.
The soon-to-be-released document encourages banks to provide more financial support, though some lenders are facing 6 times higher-than-average non-performing loan rates in the inclusive finance sector, the people said. A total of 10 specific measures set to be introduced were discussed during the meeting between the National Development and Reform Commission and major banks, including Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd and Agricultural Bank of China Ltd, they said.
"The overall idea is to provide more support for small enterprises because they are key drivers supporting growth. But, we need to make sure such efforts will not lead to higher financial risks affecting the financial system," said an official with the National Development and Reform Commission.
The commission said it has talked with banks about the need to further ease access to credit, but no definite decision has been made.
Rising borrowing costs are putting pressure on banks, including large commercial banks, although the central bank injected some liquidity to ease pressure in April.
The commission will take into consideration banks' capacity to further support the non-financial sector before introducing the guideline, because asset management rules introduced earlier this year have increased liquidity pressure on banks, according to the official.
Chinese banks could struggle to issue more loans to small companies because many such companies have a poor credit history. Commercial banks' bad loan ratio stood at 1.74 percent amid the strengthened efforts to rein in risks.
Some banks' non-performing loan rates in the inclusive finance sector－which covers small companies and low-income borrowers－can be as high as 6 times the industries' overall level, according to people from a commercial bank's credit department.