Muscat: Oman’s conventional banks have achieved a 7.69 per cent year-on-year growth in aggregate personal loan or consumer loan portfolio, which stood at OMR7,897.74 million by the end of December, 2016.
The aggregate personal loan portfolio of Omani banks constitutes 40.1 per cent of the total bank credit worth OMR19,704.58 million by the end of December 2016, the Central Bank of Oman said in its latest quarterly report.
The report said that on an incremental basis, the flow of credit to consumers resulted in an additional disbursement of OMR563.94 million in the last 12-month period ending December 2016.
Ironically enough, the growth in demand for personal loans was firm although new employees taking up jobs showed a slowdown in the aftermath of an economic slowdown caused by sluggish oil prices.
Personal loans are the key revenue drivers for the Sultanate’s financial institutions due to high interest margins.
Banking regulator CBO stipulates an upper ceiling of 35 per cent of a bank’s total credit portfolio as personal loans and another 15 per cent as mortgage finance. The apex bank had lowered the debt burden ratio (the portion of salary that goes towards loan repayment) of borrowers to 50 per cent and 60 per cent for personal and housing loans, respectively, almost three years ago.
The maximum interest rate ceiling for personal loan is fixed at 6 per cent per annum. A majority of Omani banks are offering personal loans at the ceiling rate or less than 6 per cent. Although overall lending rates reflected a firm trend, the apex bank did not increase the interest ceiling on personal loans.
In fact, the commercial banks, which have already reached their upper ceiling, cannot grow their retail portfolio, which is generally a high margin business. However, if corporate loans grow at a faster pace, banks will be able to increase their personal loan portfolio as well.
Omani banks have achieved a 6.7 per cent growth in credit at OMR19.70 billion in 2016, against OMR18.32 billion for the previous year.
Among other sectors, the construction sector lending stood at OMR2.27 billion or 11.5 per cent of total credit and the industry sector lending stood at OMR1.53 billion or 7.8 per cent.
Also, the services sector lending was OMR1.697 or 8.6 per cent, the import sector at OMR1.14 billion or 5.8 per cent, the financial institutions sector at OMR1.7 billion or 5.1 per cent and the mining sector with OMR902.7 million or 4.6 per cent.
The electricity, gas and water sector received OMR794 million or 4 per cent of total lending, the transport and communication sector received OMR782.4 million or 4 per cent, the retail sector received OMR668 million or 3.4 per cent, the government sector lending was OMR107.3 million or 0.5 per cent, the agriculture sector and its associated activities’ lending stood at OMR57.4 million or 0.3 per cent and the export sector received OMR13 million or 0.1 per cent of total lending. – With inputs from ONA