China should boost banks' active support for economy: central bank official

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Encouraging China’s banks to actively increase support for the real economy, rather than relying on authorities’ orders to boost lending, is the key to improving the supply of credit in the economy, a central bank official said on Monday.

Headquarters of the People's Bank of China (PBOC), the central bank, is pictured in Beijing, China September 28, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee

Problems with timely capital replenishment, bank liquidity gaps and poor rate “transmission” are three major constraints on banks’ supply of credit, Sun Guofeng, head of the People’s Bank of China’s monetary policy department, wrote in a commentary in the PBOC’s China Finance magazine.

Sun said the PBOC is taking steps to relieve constraints on credit availability in an attempt to ensure looser monetary policy is reflected in looser credit conditions.

“If capital is not replenished in a timely manner it can restrict reasonable credit availability for the next stage” of lending, he wrote. He said the PBOC is further accelerating the push for banks to issue perpetual bonds to replenish capital.

Sun said “changes in the foreign exchange situation” meant that some banks face large mid-and long-term liquidity constraints, and banks’ practice of using deposits to determine the size of new loans also restricts new credit.

The PBOC is using a range of measures, including targeted reserve requirement cuts and the targeted medium-term loan facility, to encourage banks to lend to smaller companies, he said.

Cash injections by the PBOC ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday have “accurately ensured overall liquidity”, he added.

Demand for bank credit is also held back by poor rate transmission, Sun said, noting that the PBOC continues to publish benchmark deposit and loan rates that are not in line with partially liberalized market rates.

The PBOC will promote market-based interest rate reforms and gradually unify two interest rate “tracks”, Sun wrote.

Chinese authorities have struggled to boost lending to try to boost China’s slowing economy, which has been hit by weak domestic demand and the trade war with the United States.

In 2018, China’s economy grew at its slowest pace in 28 years, weighed down by weak investment and faltering consumer confidence.

Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Richard Borsuk