Turkish state banks curb consumer loan growth, rates rise sharply -bankers

By Ebru Tuncay and Nevzat Devranoglu

ANKARA, July 6 (Reuters) - Turkish state banks are acting to limit consumer loan growth, notably mortgages, while loan and deposit rates have begun to rise sharply due to rising demand for cheap loans and the cost-boosting effect of steps taken by authorities, bankers said.

Under its liraization policy, Turkey's central bank has taken steps to ensure banks hold lira fixed-coupon bonds against forex deposits and also acted to increase the lira weight in its collateral system.

Also the BDDK banking watchdog has taken the step to restrict access to lira loans for companies with substantial forex cash assets.

Those measures were taken after the lira TRYTOM=D3 slumped 44% in value last year following a series of interest rate cuts sought by President Tayyip Erdogan, before weakening another 23% this year.

Annual inflation has since surged to nearly 80% in June.

Banking sources said some state banks cut the upper limit for housing loans to 150,000 lira ($8,700), excluding some new projects.

Deposit and loan interest rates have risen further in the private sector in response to the measures taken by the government concerning loans.

Reflecting rising costs, lira deposit rates are heading towards 25% while the interest rate on dollar deposits has risen to over 6.5% from 5% in recent months. Individual and commercial loan rates continue to rise in the sector.

Bankers said the growth rate for consumer loans reached 60% by end-June from 30% at end-April, when adjusted for exchange rates. In the same period, the growth rate in commercial loans decreased from 55% to 40%.

Under the government's economic policy, corporate loans oriented towards employment and exports are encouraged in order to reduce the current account deficit. However, individuals who cannot maintain the value of their lira due to the low interest policy prefer to use loans that stimulate domestic consumption.

State banks are now seeking to slow down the excessive speed of individual loans while private banks generally do not favour the long-term corporate loans sought by the government.

A senior banker familiar with the issue said: "The upper limit for some state banks' housing loans is 150,000 lira and one has reduced it to 500,000 lira."

"There is also a liquidity shortage in banks. Banks' increase in their government bonds portfolio after the latest measures caused a lira liquidity shortage," the banker said.

"Due to inflation, individuals turned to credit-based domestic consumption," said another banker.

The second banker said interest rates were on a gradual increase, but there was an explosion in demand in the last three months, with inflation nearing 80% and the loan interest rate at 30%. ($1 = 17.2420 liras)
Reporting by Ebru Tuncay, Nevzat Devranoglu; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by

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