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Solving FX credit problem requires alternative banking system

A solution to the problem of foreign currency-denominated lending in Hungary will require an alternative banking system, government commissioner for financial rights György Doubravszky told MTI on the sidelines of a conference on Friday. Hungarian households borrowed heavily in foreign currency when the forint was strong and FX loans were cheaper than forint ones. But the weaker forint raised repayments on the FX loans, causing the number of distressed borrowers to swell. A lending margin cap in a recently unveiled central bank scheme to support SME loans could be a source of tension between commercial banks and the National Bank of Hungary, Doubravszky said. Because of this, the mid-term goal – mentioned earlier by the prime minister – of putting 50% of Hungary's banking system in domestic hands has come up again, he added. Under the MNB's “Funding for Growth” scheme, the central bank will make HUF 500 billion in financing available to commercial banks at 0%, but lenders' margins will be limited to 2%.