Focus on agriculture and tourism

With the introduction of its Monetary Policy for 2018-19 in June, Nepal Rastra Bank intended to address the shortage of loanable funds and maintain financial stability, while focusing on production and infrastructure sector. With one-fourth of the year already gone, Nepali Times spoke with Govinda Gurung, CEO of Civil Bank about the outcomes so far.

Nepali Times: How has the new Monetary Policy fared?                                                        

Govinda Gurung: Federalism, political stability and the Monetary Policy for 2017/18 have brought opportunities for the banking sector, strengthening its risk management capacity and creating business opportunities. The policies allowed the banks to move ahead aggressively with service and expansion, which in turn led to increase in capital collection and profit. However, compared to capital, the boundary for business has not improved because of which there are challenges in maintaining balance between GDP and the capital.

Banks these days seem to be marketing auto and home loans a lot?

The analytical parameters to issue loans for automation and homes are very few and easy to conduct. The process includes verification of income source and few papers. So it is easy for us to market it.

What about education loans?

In countries like the US, the government has fixed a certain amount of salary for a graduate from a particular university. Even though salaries vary, it is all verified by the certificate. So banks do not have to go into detail before issuing a loan. Here, we have been issuing loans based on the parent’s income, which we know is not the exact process.

And productive sectors?

Two sectors that can change the course of Nepal’s economy are agriculture and tourism. But these need detailed analysis on more than 200 parameters – the entrepreneur’s investment capacity, past background history, business skills and plans, financial integrity background, feasibility, tax regime, international market, available technology, to name a few. This takes more than 25 days with lots of complications to issue a loan.

Also, the concept of agro-business in Nepal is complicated. There are only a few with a master’s degree who are engaged in farming. Even those who are willing lack necessary skills and a strategic plan. In fact, there are people who casually apply for loan without a proper research, just because they are aware of government’s subsidy and loan policy.

Traditional subsistence farming systems in Nepal needs to be tweaked. Consolidation of land, irrigation systems, market linkage through transport and price stability play key role in supporting agriculture sector. Even if banks are interested in providing huge financial assistance, they cannot do anything other than micro-financing.

If policies are revised, Nepal has the capacity to export its products to countries like Singapore, where there is no land to farm. Remittance could be replaced with the capitals earned from agricultural export. Banks will happily invest in this sector as turnover is obvious.


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And Civil Bank’s plans?

Last fiscal year, the bank has earned Rs645 million net growth within a year. It is an increase of 85.2% from last year’s net profit. We have achieved 34% growth in loan, 17% in deposit with total capital of Rs8 billion and total assets of Rs51 billion.

After my appointment as the CEO of the bank in July 2017, out portfolio of non-performing assets has decreased to 2.65% from 4.66% within 15 months. Currently, Civil Bank has customer base of 240,000, which is a 100% increase from last year.

Keeping in line with the policy of the central bank, we are planning to expand our network to 119 branches, up from 68, by the end of this fiscal year. Also, we have kept the option of merger acquisition open, keeping the primary focus on business synergy and profit synergy.

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