Experts have forecasted lower-than-expected credit growth for 2013 amid mixed results reported by the country’s commercial banks.

Sai Gon-Hanoi Bank recently said it was approved by the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) to raise its credit growth quota for this year from 12 percent to 20 percent, after its lending increased 8.7 percent in the first nine months – significant progress compared with 2.7 percent recorded for the first half.

Ho Chi Minh City Development Bank (HDBank)'s outstanding loans were up about 20.4 percent in nine months and expected to reach 26 percent by year-end. A bank representative told VnEconomy that sharp interest rate declines, better financial capacity and rallying business performances were facilitating lending.

A Government's October report said about 11,750 enterprises were reopened in the first 10 months, and the number of newly-registered firms increased 9 percent over the same period last year.

HDBank said it is offering 1 trillion VND (47.6 million USD) with interest rates of 8-8.5 percent per year to help producers, importers and exporters supplement their capital.

Some banks, including Sacombank and Asia Commercial Bank (ACB), were reported to be gradually increasing deposit rates to the 7-9 percent range following forecasts of improved lending between now and the end of the year, especially by importers of goods for the New Year season.

SBV officials said the central bank is considering allowing banks to raise lending limits at a time when general credit growth is targeting an 11-12 percent annual goal, while it reached only 7.89 percent at the end of October.

Meanwhile, nine-month lending growth reached only 4 percent at Vietcombank, 1.2 percent at DongA Bank and "a few percent" at Vietinbank and Eximbank. Loans even declined at Southern Bank, Navibank and PGBank, according to Dau tu Chung khoan (Securities Investment).

Eximbank Deputy General Director Tran Tan Loc said the bank's nine-month outstanding loans reached only half of its annual target, although it cut lending rates for some import and export loans to below the 7-percent deposit rate cap.

ACB Deputy General Director Bui Tan Tai said enterprises are being more careful with borrowing decisions not because of interest rate pressure, but due to weak demand on the market.

"Lending has improved, but it's not easy to attain credit growth of 1.5-2 percent per month for the remainder of the year to fulfill the annual goal," said Nguyen Hoang Minh, deputy director of SBV's Ho Chi Minh City branch.

Former SBV Governor Cao Sy Kiem said general credit growth could reach 10 percent by year-end if lending progressed well in the fourth quarter. He added that more Government policies are needed to stimulate demand, although it would take time for them to take effect.

"The overall lending situation will be brighter in 2014 when business performances show clearer signs of recovery. However, the more important thing is still how to solve bad debts and clear capital flows," he said.

"The Vietnam Asset Management Company is undertaking an important role in dealing with bad debts, but a debt trading market is needed for more success," he noted.-VNA