January 23, 2017 / 1:22 PM / 2 years ago

Angola's banks grapple with liquidity, foreign exchange shortages

LUANDA, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Angola’s banks face a liquidity crunch due to a shortage of foreign currency, said the head of the nation’s banking association on Monday, but added that he is not aware of requests by lenders for a state-funded bailout.

Growth has slowed sharply in Africa’s second largest oil-producer as lower crude prices and a drop in government revenue put pressure on state coffers.

With crude at $55 a barrel, down from over $100 in mid-2014, Angola is starved of dollars and the kwanza the national currency has collapsed and inflation in a country that imports almost everything has risen drastically.

“I have no knowledge about a request like this,” Association of Angolan Banks chairman Amílcar Silva told Reuters. The association represents banks including Banco BNI, Banco de Poupanca e Credito, Standard Chartered Bank Angola, Banco VTB Africa and South Africa’s Standard Bank.

“We all know that banks are facing foreign exchange liquidity problems in Angola. This distress was not created by them, but it was caused by the financial crisis this country faces,” Silva said.

The central bank, which raised interest rates by 500 basis points last year as inflation hovers around 40 percent, said last year it expects inflation to ease in 2017.

If the government or central bank intervenes, it should be in the form of credit to be paid back later, said Silva.

“The financial and liquidity reality only will be known when the banks release their 2016 yearly corporate and financial reports soon,” he added. (Reporting by Herculano Coroado; Writing by TJ Strydom; Editing by Louise Heavens)

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