The business environment of the banking and finance sectors improved in the first three months of this year compared with last year, according to the State Bank of Vietnam.

The central bank announced this last week, citing its latest quarterly survey of the business trends of credit institutions and foreign bank branches in Vietnam for the second quarter.

About 53 percent of the lenders said that their business situation was currently "good", up from 29 percent recorded in the previous survey; while 46.5 percent said it was "normal".

They said they would concentrate on human resource training and upgradation of technology in the coming months.

The institutions said that their customers had revived their financial capacity. With economic recovery now certain, they anticipated stiff competition among lenders in the near future.

Most of the lenders assessed the customers' demand for banking services to be "normal" or "high". A majority of them predicted that the deposit and lending interest rates would further ease this year, and 40 percent said they planned to reduce service charges.

Almost all of the lenders said that they had no intention of downsizing staff this year, and over a third said that they were short of staff and might recruit more people. Only 7.4 percent cut down employees in the first quarter.

Most estimated that they were having "good" liquidity for both dong and foreign currencies, and hoped to maintain that throughout this year. They expected deposits and loans to grow at a rate between 10 and 20 percent in 2014.

The majority of the credit institutions assessed the risks involved for their customers to be "normal" and said the risk levels were tending to decline.

But the lenders remained cautious about the future of the banking sector, as they didn't anticipate any breakthroughs for an economic rally this year.-VNA