Merida, 15th January 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Agricultural loans, micro-financing and other financing for national development projects rose by 50.73% in Venezuela last year, according to the country's Superintendent of Banks (Sudeban).
Subeban's latest report indicates that development loans rose from BsF 179 billion (US$ 28.4 billion) at the end of 2012 to BsF 270 billion (US$ 42.9 billion) by last month.
Financing for agriculture reached BsF 108 billion (US$ 17.1 billion) in December; up 2.21% from November.
Housing loans also increased by 1.93% between November and December.
Both public and private banks in Venezuela are required by law to set aside at least 10% of their lending portfolios to support development in areas including housing, manufacturing, agriculture, tourism and micro-enterprises.
In January 2012 then president Hugo Chavez accused some of Venezuela's largest banks of failing to adhere to the legal requirement, and not setting aside enough credit for national development.
Banesco, Banco Mercantil and Banco Provincial in particular were accused of preferencing businesses and large-scale landholders, and threatened with nationalisation by Chavez.
However, according to the latest Sudeban figures in 2013 development loans comprised just over 40% of all bank loans in the country.
This week the Women's Development Bank (Banmujer) also reported that it met its annual loan goal last year.
“In 2013 the balance sheet was positive, as we meet the proposed goal of 565 [micro-]credits for agricultural and non-agricultural programs,” Banmujer coordinator Maritza Leon told state news agency AVN. The bank lends up to BsF 6,000 (US$ 952) at a time at preferential interest rates to beneficiaries, who are generally required to repay the credit within four years.
According to Leon, 60% of the bank's loans went towards agricultural initiatives.
Some of the other projects supported by the bank include crafts, dressmaking and hairdressing, according to Leon.
Established in September 2001, Banmujer was mandated to provide financing for small businesses for women living in poverty. The bank also offers training and other forms of assistance for women seeking to start up businesses.