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Banks to balance social responsibility with risk prevention

Chen Jia
Updated: Oct 19,2018 8:54 AM     China Daily

Chinese financial institutions have vowed to strengthen financial support for poverty-stricken areas while mitigating against debt default risks, as an important element of the country’s antipoverty battle.

“Financial institutions need to better balance the relationship between fulfilling social responsibility and preventing financial risks,” said Liu Guoqiang, the central bank’s vice-governor, at a meeting held in Jinping county in Guizhou province last week.

He called for higher attention to be paid to potential risks in anti-poverty programs, while continuing to earmark financial resources for poverty alleviation-related investment.

Measures will include utilizing the agricultural credit guarantee mechanism to diversify risks; encouraging local governments to effectively integrate fiscal capital and increasing subsidies on interest payments on loans related to poverty alleviation; and establishing risk compensation and guarantee funds.

“(The measures) should remove financial institutions’ concerns about loan quality, and promote the proactive issuing of loans,” Liu said.

Leaders from 22 financial institutions — including regulatory bodies, policy and commercial banks, and insurance and asset management companies — gathered at the meeting in Jinping, sharing their achievements in supporting 64 poverty-stricken counties to improve the local people’s quality of life, especially in terms of education and healthcare.

The equity market could also play an important role in channeling more capital into the real economy and supporting less-developed regions, said Zhao Zhengping, vice-chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission.

In September 2017, the CSRC issued guidelines to encourage the capital market to better support the national anti-poverty program. Since then, 12 companies from poverty-stricken areas have successfully issued A shares on mainland stock markets through a special mechanism called the Green Channel. Together they have raised a total of 6.9 billion yuan ($997 million) from the capital market.

Another 66 companies are preparing IPOs, while 98 companies have already listed on the National Equities Exchange and Quotations, known as the New Third Board, according to CSRC data.

During the past five years, financial institutions have invested nearly 33.1 billion yuan — in the form of bank loans, funds and risk security funds — into nationwide antipoverty programs, helping more than 720,000 people, the central bank vice-governor said.

China aims to lift all of its citizens out of poverty by 2020. As of the end of 2017, the country had 30 million poor residents, compared with 98.99 million in 2012, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Although some of those 30 million people have risen out of extreme poverty, many still struggle to meet their basic daily needs.

In addition to expanding financing channels, many State-owned financial institutions have also transferred managers to local governments, where they have become officials in counties and towns in less-developed regions.

Financial institutions are also introducing new technologies, including e-commerce and fintech, in rural areas to support industrial and business development based on innovative models, according to the speeches delivered at the meeting in Jinping.