Banks boost services for private businesses
A dozen Chinese banks, mostly major ones, have rolled out detailed measures to support the development of private enterprises, against the backdrop of Chinese authorities' ramped-up efforts to boost the private sector.
Experts said such measures have the potential to enhance private enterprises' access to quality financial services and inject new impetus into the private sector, eventually helping enhance the overall economic recovery.
"Difficulties facing the Chinese economy partly stem from difficulties facing the private sector. Insufficient accessibility to loans, and higher rates of interest on loans compared with State-owned enterprises ... such problems used to create hurdles for private enterprises seeking to expand quickly," said Li Guoan, a professor at the Academy of China Open Economy Studies, which is part of the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.
"Enhancing financial services for the private sector and treating private enterprises equally with SOEs will effectively improve the development conditions for the private sector and help spur the overall economy, which in the long run will benefit the banking industry as well by creating a virtuous cycle," he said.
Official data, he said, showed the private sector contributes about 50 percent of China's tax revenue, 60 percent of GDP and 70 percent of technological innovation. It also accounts for 80 percent of urban employment.
In July, the central authorities issued a guideline on stimulating the growth of the private sector. Removal of barriers in market access and full implementation of policies and mechanisms for fair competition received emphasis in the guideline.
In this regard, several banks, including State-owned, joint-stock and local commercial lenders, have announced action plans so far.
For instance, China Construction Bank, the second-largest of China's "Big Four" State-owned banks, unveiled a set of 21 measures to better serve private enterprises. CCB's focus is on enhancing financial services for the private sector.
The Beijing-based commercial lender said it will enhance mechanisms to improve loan accessibility for private enterprises, aiming to stabilize enterprise expectations and confidence.
The bank also pledged to serve more market entities with more credit and bond financing support, strengthen equity financing services and enhance supply chain finance services. The larger goal is to enable enterprises to boost their scientific innovation capability and implement major strategies like global expansion.
Zhou Maohua, an analyst with China Everbright Bank, said many financial institutions have decided to provide more credit to private enterprises and also improve financial services offered to them, especially small and medium-sized enterprises in sectors like innovation, green development and rural vitalization.
"To achieve such goals, commercial lenders need to optimize their service procedures, establish incentive mechanisms for employees, and improve risk control capability," he said.
CEB, a major joint-stock lender, said it will increase tolerance for nonperforming loans of private enterprises and establish mechanisms to exempt personnel from liability if they had exercised due diligence.
Bank employees' performance assessment will give weight to services rendered to private enterprises, CEB said, adding it will treat SOEs and private enterprises equally.
It said it is also encouraging its branches across the country to proactively provide financial services to private enterprises operating in key industries like science and innovation, green and low carbon development, high-end manufacturing and inclusive finance.
Li of the UIBE said joint efforts should be made to boost the private sector and further enhance the business environment for the latter, including raising public awareness of the importance of the private sector and improving financial services offered to it.