Commercial banks’ loans may increase in a range between 6% and 8% this year after rising 4.4% in 2017, reflecting the improving economy, a senior central bank official said on Monday.

Non-performing loans (NPLs) likely peaked in the final quarter of last year and might fall slightly in 2018, Daranee Saeju, a senior director of the Bank of Thailand’s financial institutions strategy department, told reporters.

Banks’ NPLs rose to 2.91% of loans at the end of last year, totalling 429 billion baht ($13.57 billion), compared with 2.83% at end-2016, the central bank said.

It has forecast economic growth of 3.9% for both this year and in 2017. A BoT official recently said growth in 2017 might be 4% when the state planning agency announces official gross domestic product data next Monday.

The economy grew 3.2% last year, less than regional peers.

News Reporter

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