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  • Writer's pictureBy The Financial District

Bad Loans Continued To Pile Up In May

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

The non-performing loans (NPLs) of domestic banks increased in May, bringing their NPL ratio to the highest in nine months, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) data showed.


Photo Insert: Aside from higher borrowing costs, firms also dealt with elevated inflation that has cut into their profit margins and reduced their capacity to repay their loans.



It indicated the banking industry’s overall NPL ratio rose to 3.46% in May, from 3.41% in April, although lower than the 3.75% posted a year earlier. This is the highest NPL ratio since August, when it stood at 3.53%. Bad loans in May inched up by 1.9% to P436.117 billion from April, and by 1.6% from a year earlier.


The uptick in the NPL ratio reflected the higher interest rate environment both locally and globally, as central banks hiked aggressively to tame inflation, observed Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. chief economist Michael L. Ricafort.



Since May 2022, the Monetary Board raised borrowing costs by 425 basis points (bps), bringing the key interest rate to a near 16-year high of 6.25%. The BSP is widely expected to keep the policy rate steady for the rest of the year.


Aside from higher borrowing costs, firms also dealt with elevated inflation that has cut into their profit margins and reduced their capacity to repay their loans.


All the news: Business man in suit and tie smiling and reading a newspaper near the financial district.

“Nevertheless, the reopening of the economy somewhat overshadowed these risk factors,” Ricafort noted, adding that better revenues, earnings, and employment improved the capability of consumers and firms to pay their loans.


He also noted the NPL ratio in June is still among the lowest since the pandemic when it peaked at 4.51% in August 2021. BSP data showed the banking industry’s total loan portfolio expanded by 10.1% to P12.6 trillion from P11.44 trillion in June 2022. Month-on-month, it inched up by 0.3%.


Business: Business men in suite and tie in a work meeting in the office located in the financial district.

Past due loans in May rose by 3.3% to P525.511 billion from P508.508 billion a year ago. This brought the ratio to 4.17%, slipping from 4.44% last year. Restructured loans fell by 7.8% to P310.298 billion from P336.723 billion a year ago.


These borrowings made up 2.46% of the industry’s total loan portfolio, down from 2.94% in May 2022.


Banking & finance: Business man in suit and tie working on his laptop and holding his mobile phone in the office located in the financial district.

Lenders continued to beef up their loan loss reserves by 9.2% to P444.028 billion from a year earlier. However, its ratio inched down to 3.52% from 3.55%. In May, lenders’ NPL coverage ratio — which gauges the allowance for potential losses due to bad loans — increased to 101.81% from 94.76% a year earlier.


Easing inflation and eventually lower interest rates would help improve the credit quality of many borrowers, Ricafort said.


Market & economy: Market economist in suit and tie reading reports and analysing charts in the office located in the financial district.

Headline inflation slowed for a fifth straight month in June to 5.4% from 6.1% a year ago. For the first six months of the year, inflation averaged 7.2%, still above the BSP’s 5.4% full-year forecast.


BSP Governor Eli M. Remolona had earlier said the Monetary Board may consider cutting interest rates if inflation fell below 4.0% by October. The BSP’s next policy-setting meetings are set for Aug. 17, Sept. 21, Nov. 16 and Dec. 14.





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