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Heightened stress in retail, MSME segments due to Covid could weigh down banks, cautions Ind-Ra

However, rating agency maintains stable outlook on overall banking sector for FY22

India Ratings (Ind-Ra) has cautioned that heightened stress in retail and micro, small and medium enterprise (MSMEs) could push out the banking sector’s inflexion point.

The credit rating agency also said that upward movement in yield curve could weigh down banks’ profitability.

Ind-Ra observed that safe bastion retail lending has fallen as pandemic drives higher delinquencies.

Indian banks to feel the effect of Covid second wave long after infections fade: S&P Global

In the case of MSME, notwithstanding the support in the form of the emergency credit line guarantee scheme (ECLGS) and restructuring, slippages could reflect from 2HFY22.

The agency noted that the agriculture sector has seen limited impact of Covid. The incremental stress addition from corporate segment has been at low levels.

Continuing systemic support

Ind-Ra, however, has maintained a stable outlook on the overall banking sector for the rest of FY22, supported by the continuing systemic support that has helped manage the system-wide Covid-linked stress.

It observed that banks also continue to strengthen their financials by raising capital and adding to provision buffers, which have already seen a sharp increase in the last three to four years.

‘Significant impact on profitability of Indian banking system’

The agency, in its “Mid-Year Banks Outlook”, has kept its FY22 credit growth estimates unchanged at 8.9 per cent for FY22, supported by a pick-up in economic activity post 1QFY22, higher Government of India (GoI) spending, especially on infrastructure, and a revival in demand for retail loans.

For FY22, the agency estimates the banking sector’s gross non-performing assets (GNPAs) at 8.6 per cent (against 10.1 per cent forecast made in February 2021) and stressed assets at 10.3 per cent (11.7 per cent). It expects provisioning cost for FY22 to increase to 1.9 per cent from its earlier estimate of 1.5 per cent.

PvSBs: market share gains

“Ind-Ra’s Stable outlook on large private sector banks (PvSBs) indicates their continued market share gains, both in assets and liabilities, while competing intensely with public sector banks (PSBs).

“Most have strengthened their capital buffers and proactively managed their portfolio. As growth revives, large PvSBs are likely to benefit from credit migration due to their superior product and service proposition,”said Karan Gupta, Director.

The agency’s Stable outlook on PSBs takes into account continued government support through large capital infusions (?2.8 lakh crore over FY18-FY21 and further ?20,000 crore provisioned for FY22).

The government’s support to PSBs has resulted in a significant boost in their capital buffers over the minimum regulatory requirements, significant improvement in provision coverage to 68 per cent in FY21 (FY18: 49 per cent), overall systemic support resulting in lower-than-expected Covid stress and smooth amalgamation of PSBs, Gupta said.

As per Ind-Ra’s analysis of the impact of a reversal in the long-term yield curve on the investment portfolio of banks, it expects an adverse impact on the profitability with a 100 basis points upward shift in the yield curve.

This could impact the pre-provisioning operating profit of PSBs by 8 per cent and that of PvSBs by 3.2 per cent while for the overall banking system, the impact could be 5.8 per cent.