The profit margins of Russian banks today stand at only 2%, which is 10-15 times lower than rates in the manufacturing and retail sectors. This was announced by Gagerin Tosunyan, the president of the Association of Russian Banks (ARB), at the round-table conference 'On government policy regarding development of the Russian banking system.'
The ARB president believes that it is not possible to improve the performance of commercial banks in Russia without resolving the problems of covering banking risks and attracting resources for long-term loans. The compulsory reserve fund currently absorbs between 7% and 10% of bank funds, which, according to Tosunyan, 'is an unjustifiably high proportion. In Europe this figure is only 2%.'
According to the ARB's figures, Russian banks held 190 billion roubles (USD 6.03 billion) in the compulsory reserve fund at the end of 2002, and 100 billion roubles (USD 3.2 billion) in correspondent accounts. 'If the compulsory reserve fund and correspondent accounts were merged, this would free up to 150 billion roubles (USD 4.76 billion) a year, which could be redirected in order to provide loans to the real sector of the economy,' explained Tosunyan.
Speaking at the round-table session, Anton Siluanov, the head of the Russian Finance Ministry's Department for Macroeconomic Policy and the Banking Sector, announced the government's plans to draw up a strategy for developing the banking sector in Russia in the medium term. According to Siluanov, the strategy will include a range of measures to improve legislation on the bankruptcy of credit organisations and reducing the state's share of banking capital.