‘Small Businesses At A Higher Risk Of Credit Default Due To Pandemic’

A farmer collects flowers after plucking from a field near international border in Suchetgarh sector on the outskirts of Jammu. PTI Photo

Mumbai: Small business credit of Rs 2.32 lakh crore is at the highest risk of default, and micro enterprises having loan outstanding of less than Rs 10 lakh are the most vulnerable because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a credit information company said on Wednesday.

It can be noted that ever since the outbreak of the virus infections and the subsequent lockdown that is scheduled to last at least 40 days, concerns are being raised about the financial health of small businesses.

In its study, TransUnion Cibil said, at present, the total outstanding amount of all financiers to small businesses having a credit outstanding of less than Rs 50 crore is Rs 17.94 lakh crore, representing 28 per cent of the total outstanding credit.

The bureau has launched an enhanced methodology to include enterprises having less than Rs 10 lakh outstanding as well to assess their health.

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic poses new challenges to businesses, especially for micro enterprises, who are often more vulnerable to sudden changes in the economic environment,” its managing director and chief executive Rajesh Kumar said.

The agency said the number of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) falling in the highest risk bracket of “CMR-7 to CMR-10” have outstanding credit balances of Rs 2.32 lakh crore, which is at a higher risk of slipping into becoming a non-performing asset (NPA).

Out of this, the credit to enterprises with less than Rs 10 lakh outstanding alone totals up to Rs 13,600 crore in the overall credit bracketed as the most risky, it said, adding that their overall loan balance is Rs 93,000 crore.

The overall NPA ratio for small business has been growing over the past few years and stood at 12.6 per cent as at December 2019, the bureau said, adding the CMR is a credit risk rank that predicts the probability of a small business loan turning bad in 12 months.

It can be noted that the Reserve Bank has permitted a three-month moratorium on all term loan repayments between March-May.

The bureau said with the enhanced offering, its coverage of companies having less than Rs 50 crore in borrowings can go up to 90 lakh entities including the 55 lakh ones of under Rs 10 lakh borrowings.

State-run Small Industries Development Bank of India’s chairman and managing director Mohammad Mustafa said the enhanced offering comes at a “very crucial time” and hoped for it to help fuel the economy by providing smaller businesses access to credit.

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