People's Bank of China Governor Yi Gang speaking at the Lujiazu forum in Shanghai. Photo: Reuters
People's Bank of China Governor Yi Gang speaking at the Lujiazu forum in Shanghai. Photo: Reuters

People’s Bank of China Governor Yi Gang has pledged to increase lending to small and micro companies as Beijing moves to ease monetary policy. In the wake of Beijing’s war on corporate and consumer debt, the world’s second’s largest economy has cooled amid a credit crunch.

But Yi has hinted that the lack of borrowing options have had a detrimental effect on the companies that China is keen to promote.

In a speech in Shanghai, he promised to ease the “credit strain and high financing costs” on “small enterprises” and called on the PBOC, or central bank, to work with other authorities to accelerate the “relevant policies.”

“Small and micro businesses have played a crucial role in promoting innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as improving employment and people’s livelihoods,” Yi told the Lujiazui Forum in the heart of Shanghai’s financial district earlier this week.

“Enhancing financial support for small and micro businesses represents the basic requirement for the financial sector to serve the real economy and prevent major risks,” he added.

His statement came after the head of China’s top financial regulator, Guo Shuqing, announced he would continue the deleveraging campaign, as well as open up the country’s financial sector.

“The crackdown on interconnected businesses and the recycling [of money] within the financial sector must fully consider the ability of institutions and the market to withstand [such pressures], Guo, the chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory, said, referring to the tricks that financial institutions use to hide their lending from regulators.

“[But] preventing and resolving financial risks is not only a hard battle but also a long-lasting war,” he added. “Some comrades are concerned that opening the financial industry could hit China’s financial markets and are a threat to the nation’s financial safety, but such worries are unnecessary.”

Still, analysts are expecting an easing in monetary policy after growing evidence that the crackdown on debt is taking its toll on the economy, as well as the escalating trade dispute with the United States.

On Thursday, the National Bureau of Statistics released data which showed that investment, retail sales and industrial output dipped last month.

Coupled with that was the PBOC’s reluctance to match the US Federal Reserve’s decision on Wednesday to increase interest rates.

“Faced with a domestic slowdown that has been worse than expected and the potential fallout of a trade war, Beijing has already chosen to soften its stance on deleveraging and has introduced moderate policy easing measures,” Lu Ting, the chief China economist with Nomura International, wrote in a note Thursday, which was reported by the Chinese news and business website Caixin.

Louis Kuijs, the head of Asia economics with research firm Oxford Economics, also pointed out in a report that Beijing will probably adopt a “flexible” approach.

“[They may] still want to keep the policy stance flexible and ease further if that is deemed necessary, to ensure credit growth slows down only gradually and the impact on GDP growth is contained,” Kuijs said.