SA consumers owe R1,2 trillion credit

SOUTH Africans are paying debt to the tune of R1,2trillion, the National Credit Regulator said yesterday.

The NCR's fifth Consumer Credit Report found that the total value of new credit granted to consumers increased by 18,13% to R63,3billion in the quarter ended December 2009, from R53,58billion in the quarter ended September 2009.

As at December 2009, the total outstanding consumer credit balance was R1,13trillion.

Economist Mike Schussler said the debt figure was "par for the course" since SA Reserve Bank private sector credit extension figures showed that the country owed R2-trillion in loans.

"The SARB figure includes businesses, but these new NCR figures obviously show us that the majority of loans are taken up by consumers - making up about 55% of all credit extended," said Schussler.

The fifth edition of the report, which was released yesterday, is based on data submitted to the NCR by registered credit providers and covers credit market information from December 2008 up to December 2009.

In a statement, NCR chief executive Gabriel Davel said the 18,63% increase in credit granted to consumers was still a decline of 3,75% from the previous year.

"This indicates that after a two-year period of ongoing decline in credit granted, credit volumes may be recovering," Davel said.

He said the number of consumers applying for credit increased by 11,03% compared to the quarter ended September 2009. The number of consumers whose applications for credit had been declined remained at 44%.

The NCR pointed out that although this was the most significant increase in credit granted for two years, the gross value of credit granted for the quarter was still lower than the amount granted prior to contraction.

In the December 2009 quarter, R63.3-billion of credit was extended compared to R102,3billion for the December 2007 quarter, the NCR said.