Although the ongoing epidemic is taking a toll on China's small and micro-enterprises, its influence on the overall financial system will be partial and short-lived, a senior banking official said here Friday.
Zhou Liang, vice chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC), told a news briefing that China has ample resources to deal with the possible increase in the non-performing loan (NPL) ratio of loans to small firms hit by the coronavirus epidemic.
Noting that small and micro-enterprises, especially those in the hard-hit regions like Hubei and sectors like hospitality and tourism, would take a blow from the epidemic, Zhou said their total bad loan volume will be broadly in line with that of the whole financial system.
In 2019, the NPL ratio of inclusive loans to small and micro-enterprises was 3.22 percent, down 1 percentage point from a year ago. Meanwhile, the provision coverage ratio in China's banking system is now over 180 percent, according to Zhou.
The CBIRC has also asked banks and insurance companies to aid small firms hit by the coronavirus epidemic, he said. Many banks have lowered lending rates for small and micro-enterprises in Hubei, while other banks have offered them special loans or exemption of overdue interest.
Financial support has also been extended to enterprises at the front line of the coronavirus battle such as manufacturers of medical supplies and disinfectants, as well as those dedicated to vaccine research, who will enjoy lending rate discounts and a special loan quota.
More than 210 billion yuan (about 30 billion U.S. dollars) of loans have so far gone into these fields, according to Zhou.
In the long term, Zhou said the epidemic would only be a temporary event, and its influence will pass quickly considering China's economic resilience and ability to absorb short-term impacts.