HILARY JOFFE: Bank-bashing is sometimes as unwise as it is unfair
At least the banks’ own regulator gives them credit, as it were
Everyone loves to hate the banks and there are lots of reasons for this. But it's too easy to make them the punching bag for the government's failings. And there's been a fair bit of that, despite the role they have played in softening the effects of the Covid crisis and the lockdowns for many of their customers. Take President Cyril Ramaphosa himself, who early on had a go at the banks for not lending enough under the R200bn government-backed loan guarantee scheme - but failed to mention how much the banks had done in their own right to provide debt relief for their customers. He has since done so.
But the loan scheme's limited take-up has continued to be the focus of some bank-bashing, even though the R200bn never really existed. The banks collectively estimated early in the crisis that R100bn could realistically be lent under such a scheme. The government doubled that to take its stimulus and relief package up to the sexy R500bn mark (much of the rest of the R500bn never ex...