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Bank loans to small businesses for exports dip by 40% in Gujarat

The bank credit to small businesses for exports have registered a fall of about 40 per cent in 18 months, according to a report by State Level Bankers Committee (SLBC).

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Businessmen have raised concern over fall in bank credit for exports in Gujarat. The bank credit to small businesses for exports have registered a fall of about 40 per cent in 18 months, according to a report by State Level Bankers Committee (SLBC).

A segment in the industry interprets this as an indication of a fall in exports from the state. However, bankers say the figures do not represent the export credit to large corporates in Gujarat and therefore are only a part of the picture.

According to a recent SLBC report in June 2018, Gujarat recorded export credit of Rs 6,644 crore — a drop of about about 5 per cent compared to Rs 7,026 crore in December 2016. However, bank loans to Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) for exports dropped by a whopping 40 per cent to Rs 2,031 crore.

A top banker explained that the period of credit is an immediate aftermath of demonetisation and rolling out of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). "The efforts to formalize the economy hit the MSMEs the most. This period also witnessed economic moderation, which also had an impact on demand for credit," said the banker.

Jaimin Vasa, president of the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), said fall in credit for exports by MSMEs is a clear indication of fall in exports by MSMEs, which is matter of concern. "The suspension of Letter of Undertaking (LoU) and Buyers' Credit has also increased cost of finance for the industry. There are initial indications of shortage of liquidity and it is high time the suspensions be lifted. Or else, the effect would worsen," warned Vasa.

According to bankers, cotton exports to China took a hit during this period and these exporters were mostly small businessmen. Moreover, finance for products such as petroleum and to a certain extent, diamonds, take place through branches in Mumbai; and although exports are from Gujarat, they are not represented in bank finance from the state. "Moreover, export finance of large companies based out of Gujarat are also from branches in Mumbai. If we consider all these exports, overall exports have risen," said a banker.

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