Agency assessed that the 30+ PAR could rise to 14-16 per cent of portfolio this month from a recent low of 6-7 per cent in March
A hit to the collection efficiency of microfinance institutions (NBFC-MFIs) owing to protracted Covid-19 curbs will increase asset-quality pressures in the sector, with loans in arrears for over 30 days likely to cross the surge in the aftermath of demonetisation (DeMon), cautioned CRISIL Ratings.
CRISIL Rating assessed that the 30+ PAR could rise to 14-16 per cent of portfolio this month from a recent low of 6-7 per cent in March. This number had surged to 11.7 per cent in March 2017, in the aftermath of demonetisation.
“But unlike last fiscal, when loan moratorium helped keep delinquency increases at bay, more MFIs are likely to opt for permitting restructuring under the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)’s Resolution Framework 2.0 announced last month, and continue with higher provisioning,” CRISIL Ratings said.
Ground level challenges
Krishnan Sitaraman, Senior Director and Deputy Chief Ratings Officer, CRISIL Ratings, observed that the medical impact of the second wave of the pandemic has been much worse than the first wave, and afflictions have percolated to the rural areas too.
“Ground-level infrastructural and operational challenges, as well as restrictions on movement of people, have impinged on the MFI sector’s collection efficiency.
“Though overall collection efficiency is expected at 75-80 per cent in May, compared to 90-95 per cent in March, pressure on asset quality would be higher as borrowers do not have a blanket moratorium this time, while their cash flows have been impacted by the second wave,” opined Sitaraman.
Considering the current ground-level challenges, the note emphasised that encouraging collections through the digital mode is imperative for MFIs – the way they have transitioned to cashless disbursements.
Restructuring, Delinquencies & Provisioning
With 30+ PAR mounting, CRISIL Ratings is of the view that the demand under restructuring 2.0 could be in high-single digits compared to 1-2 per cent seen during restructuring 1.0 for the overall sector.
“Yet, the risk of protracted delinquencies eventually leading to credit costs staying elevated, remains.
“For one, borrowers’ track record of repayment ability is yet to be established for already restructured portfolios. Two, lack of prudence is also a possibility,” the note said.
CRISIL estimates that close to half of the total assets under management (AUM) of NBFC-MFIs of about ₹80,000 crore as on March 2021, were generated from December 2020 onwards.
Given the relatively vulnerable credit profiles of borrowers and the fact that local economic activity is yet to normalise, sustainability of collections, especially for the recent disbursements, will be the key monitorable in the coming quarters, it added.
Ajit Velonie, Director, CRISIL Ratings, said: “To be sure, NBFC-MFIs have created provisions (including a special Covid-19 provision in the fourth quarter last fiscal) estimated at 3-5 per cent of the AUM as on March 2021.
“Considering the likely rise in delinquencies and restructuring, higher-than-normal provisioning is warranted even in the first half of this fiscal to absorb the shocks.”
NBFC-MFIs with adequate liquidity, lower leverage, or those backed by strong parentage, will be better placed to withstand the current situation, he added.
According to CRISIL Ratings, large MFIs rated by it are either backed by strong parentage with access to capital, or have comfortable capitalisation with gearing at about 3-3.5 times, which should allow them to withstand the stress.
They also have the liquidity to cover over two months of debt repayments – even after assuming nil collections – because disbursements have been low, too, which has helped conserve cash.
Nevertheless, the trajectory of recovery, access to incremental funding and capital position will bear watching, especially of the smaller MFIs, the agency said.