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Ugandan banks post UGX772.2 billion in Q1, 2019 revenues

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Stanbic Bank, Uganda's biggest bank by assets, lending and profitability and a symbol of Uganda's banking industry growth

Fresh from a rich 2018, Ugandan banks in the 3 months ending 31st March 2019 posted combined revenues of UGX772.2 billion, an increase of 17.2% from the UGX658.9 billion reported in March 2018.

According to Bank of Uganda’s latest Financial Stability Review report, the growth in revenue was driven by “improvements in asset quality” that “translated into reduction in provisions for bad debts and increased profitability of the sector.”  

3 banks, however remained loss making, according to Bank of Uganda.

Banks’ total assets increased by 9.9% to UGX26 trillion at the end of March 2019, largely driven by increased holdings of government securities and upsurge in loans & advances.

“Banks’ investment in government securities rose by 29.5 percent while loans grew by 11.8 percent (7.9 percent in March 2018) – UGX12.23 trillion in March 2018 to UGX13.61 trillion in 2019. Notably, the proportion of foreign currency denominated loans to total loans reduced to 37.7 percent in March 2018, from 40.3 percent in the previous year,” notes BoU in their report.  

Lowering interest rates and improved loan quality

Asset quality, as measured by the ratio of non-performing loans to total gross loans and advances (NPL ratio) improved to 3.8 percent, from 5.3 percent recorded in March 2018.

“The improvement in asset quality was largely attributed to the significant reduction in the industry stock of non-performing loans from UGX.618.7 billion to UGX.498.4 billion during the period under review,” according to Bank of Uganda.

“Consistent with banks’ reduction in exposure to foreign currency denominated loans, the proportion of foreign currency denominated NPLs relative to total NPLs reduced from 43.5 percent to 26.6 percent between March 2018 and March 2019,” BoU further reported.

The improvement in asset quality also coincided with lowered interest rates. There was an 8% aggregate reduction in lending rates from 21.4% at the start of the year to 19.61% at the end of March for UGX denominated loans. The central bank attributes this to its maintaining the Central Bank Rate at 10% throughout the period.

Treasury bill rates on the 91 Days, 182 Days and 364 days also went down by 8.1%, 9.3% and 4.1% respectively further stimulating the appetite for banks to lend and lend cheaper.

Interest rates on foreign currency denominated loans however went up by 10.8 percentage points from 6.56% at the start of the year to 7.57% at end of March 2019.

Banking sector remains resilient

BoU reports that the industry also remained resilient with adequate capital buffers during March 2019.

“The aggregate industry tier 1 capital adequacy ratio (CAR) & total CAR were 20.4 percent and 22.3 percent respectively, well above the minimum requirement of 10 percent for tier 1 CAR and 12 percent for total capital CAR. However, this was a marginal reduction from the capital ratios held at the end March 2018. This was largely attributed to faster growth in credit which translated into an increase in the Risk Weighted Assets by 16.5 percent,” according to BoU.

The central bank also reported that although there was a reduction in the liquid assets–to–deposits ratio from 52.9% held as at March 2018 to 44.1% as at March 2019, this was “well above the minimum requirement of 20 percent.” This was a result of banks’ shift in asset allocation to longer term government securities.  

The Liquidity Coverage Ratio (LCR) test showed that 22 banks held sufficient high quality liquid assets (HQLA) to sustain them through a 30-day stress scenario on a consolidated basis.

The central bank further said that it expected a “continued, but prudent, growth in credit, cognizant of macroeconomic developments and outlook.” 

Finance

Ugandan travellers to China to enjoy better services with Orient Bank’s partnership with China’s UnionPay

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Mr. Tashin Morjaria (L), Orient Bank Head of Business Development and Mr. Michael Nsereko (R ) Orient Bank Head of e-banking join Mr. Shuan Ghaidan (C), UnionPay International Company Leader and Director of Products at the partnership launch at UnionPay Headquarters in Shanghai.

Orient Bank Uganda Limited and UnionPay International have announced a partnership in which all UnionPay Cards are now accepted at all ATMs and POS terminals of Orient Bank, one of the leading and fastest growing banks in Uganda.

Annoucing the partnership in Kampala today, Darshana Bhatia, Orient Bank Excutive Director said, “This is yet another demonstration of our commitment to anticipate and meet our customer needs through technology, innovation  and partnership. Uganda  and China enjoy a robust trading relationship which relies greatly on each country’s intergration into the global financial system if ease of doing business is to be attained.”

UnionPay International is accelerating the promotion of digitized payments in East Africa. Today, UnionPay has over 80% acceptance on ATMs in Uganda and over 85% acceptance on POS terminals.

Mr. Luping Zhang, General Manager of UnionPay International Africa Branch said, “This partnership will offer holders of UnionPay cards a seamless payment experiece. Based on this collaboration, the two sides will explore future cooperation in rolling out UnionPay’s innovative products, including UnionPay QR Code payment and B2B online payment.”

Orient Bank has continued its quest to provide fast, convenient and safe payment systems to serve its niche customers in SME and High Networth Banking Segments.

This partnership will further boost trade between Uganda and China as visitors from China will be able to process payments at Orient bank ATMs and Point of Sale terminals across various merchants .

In partnership with more than 2,000 institutions worldwide, UnionPay has enabled card acceptance in 176 countries and regions, and realised card issuance in 58 countries and regions. UnionPay provides high quality, cost effective and secure cross-border payment services to the world’s largest cardholder base and ensures convenient local services to a growing number of global UnionPay cardholders and millions of merchants.

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FINANCIAL DILEMMA: BoU needs fresh UGX 671bn in capital- Auditor General

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Bank of Uganda (BoU) is undercapitalised to a tune of UGX671.712Billion According to the Auditor General, John Muwanga this poses a risk to the Central Bank’s operations.

Auditor General, John Muwanga says this financial position poses a risk to the Central Bank’s operations

The details of the Central Bank’s woes are contained in the 2018/2019 audit report of Bank of Uganda which carries queries that were raised by the Auditor General’s team.

The audit report highlighted that as per the Bank of Uganda Act, Section 14 (3), the issued and paid up capital of the Bank shall be a minimum of UGX 2 Trillion but as of June 30, 2019, the core capital of the Bank was below the minimum required capital by UGX671.712Billion while in the same period in 2018, the Central Bank was undercapitalized to a tune of UGX482.730Billion.

The audit report further explains that the operating losses of the Bank during the year ended June 30, 2019 were mainly attributable to interest expense paid to financial institutions on deposit auctions and vertical repos issued by the Bank in the management of monetary policy as per the Bank’s mandate and currency costs of UGX 198.274Bn which is equivalent to 89 % of the interest income) yet in 2018 the loss was recorded at UGX 155Bn representing 79% of the interest income.

The Central Bank management has explained that the costs of implementation of monetary policy that have caused erosion of the Bank’s core capital are currently fully borne by the Bank.

“I considered this to be a key audit matter because inadequate capital poses a business risk to the Bank and its operations. I performed the following audit procedures in this area, among others,”Muwanga cautioned.

The Central Bank also reported that during the period between July 2018 to June 2019, the Non-Executive Directors were each paid UGX.5Million net of tax per month as retainer fees and UGX2.5million net of tax per meeting as their sitting allowance.

The Central Bank’s board comprises of Prof. Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile who doubles as Board Chairman and Governor, Dr. Louis Kasekende, James Kahoza, William Kalema, Judy Obitre Gama, Keith Muhakanizi and Josephine Okui Ossiya.

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Stanbic September report bullish about economy; demand grows backed by credit growth

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The Stanbic Purchase Manager’s Index (PMI) for September shows that the private sector activity remained in the growth territory at the end of the third quarter of 2019.

The survey, sponsored by Stanbic Bank and produced by IHS Markit, indicates that ability of firms to secure additional customers resulted in higher new orders and a subsequent expansion of business activity. Meanwhile, both input costs and output prices continued to increase.

Benoni Okwenji, Stanbic Bank’s Fixed Income Manager

The headline PMI was 55.7 in September, down from 57.5 in August, but still above the 50.0 no-change mark.

Stanbic Bank Fixed Income manager Benoni Okwenje, stated that the Private sector activity remained solid at the end of the third quarter of 2019. Despite the PMI declining to 55.7 in September from 57.5 in August, overall activity remains robust.

“Domestic demand continues to improve, partially driven by private sector credit growth over the last year. Despite higher input costs, the rise in new orders has supported overall output. It has now been 32 months in a row of improving business conditions and we suspect this trend will carry through for the rest of the year,” said Okwenje.

The report shows that new orders increased in September, with a number of panelists indicating that they had been able to secure new customers during the month.

The survey, which has been conducted since June 2016 and covers the agriculture, industry, construction, wholesale & retail and service sectors, contains the latest analysis of data collected from the monthly survey of business conditions in the Ugandan private sector.

According to the PMI report for September, the expansion in demand, alongside successful marketing, led to a thirty-second successive monthly rise in business activity. All five broad sectors saw growth of output.

 “Purchasing activity continued to rise, extending the current sequence of expansion to 19 months. Faster suppliers’ delivery times meant that the increase in input buying fed through to an accumulation of inventories. Overall input prices increased, with panelists reporting higher costs for electricity and purchased items including cement, food products and stationery,” Okwenje added.

Companies responded to higher input costs by raising their output prices accordingly. Selling prices have increased throughout the 40-month survey so far.

The PMI report further states that the likelihood of continued new order growth and business expansion plans led to optimism among firms that output will rise over the coming year. “Over 74% of panelists were confident regarding the outlook,” the report showed in part.

About PMI

The PMI is a composite index, calculated as a weighted average of five individual sub-components: New Orders (30%), Output (25%), Employment (20%), Suppliers’ Delivery Times (15%) and Stocks of Purchases (10%). Readings above 50.0 signal an improvement in business conditions on the previous month, while readings below 50.0 show a deterioration.

The headline figure derived from the survey is the Purchasing Managers’ Index™ (PMI™) which provides an early indication of operating conditions in Uganda.

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