The central bank new regulations would boost financing to small and medium businesses in Egypt, supporting job creation and economic recovery. (Reuters)
Recent regulations by Egypt's Central Bank that boost financing to small and medium enterprises are credit positive for the country but credit negative for banks, said international credit agency Moody's in a statement on Monday.
The CBE said earlier this month it would require lenders to apportion 20 percent of their total loaning portfolio for SMEs, with interest rates below 5 percent imposed on firms generating between LE1 and LE20 million a year in revenue.
"The CBE’s regulation will likely shore up the country’s fragile economic recovery, a credit positive for Egypt (B3 stable)," read the statement.
Boosting SME financing would positively impact unemployment, standing at 12.8 percent as of September 2015, as well as revive investments, which are expected by Moody's to "remain depressed."
However, "the rapid growth in SME loans necessary to reach the 20 percent target will likely weaken loan performance, a credit negative for Egyptian banks," said Moody's.
The commercial banks participating in the four-year programme, which will total an estimated LE200 billion, will be able to deduct the loans from their required reserves at the Central Bank.
The international credit agency also highlighted the lack of information on SMEs needed to guide banks' decisions in addition to the limited number of registered businesses.
Moody's, which currently rates three Egyptian banks, found that the state-owned National Bank of Egypt, will need to double its portfolio over the next four years to satisfy the Central Bank requirements.
State-owned Banque Misr and publicly listed Commercial International Bank (CIB) "will need to grow their SMEs at an annual growth rate of more than 50 percent because they currently have minimal SME loans."