ECONOMY

Consumer credit squeezes business loans

ANKARA (Reuters) – Consumer lending by banks is driving up imports and cramping the credit available for business, Turkey’s largest business organization TOBB said yesterday. Central bank data show consumer loans, which are drawing increasing attention because of Turkey’s widening current account deficit, rose nearly 53 percent to 13,170 trillion lira ($8.5 billion) on April 22 from 8,630 trillion at end-2003. «Banks’ appetite for lending to consumers pushed commercial loans to the back of the stage,» TOBB Chairman Rifat Hisarciklioglu told a business convention. «Consumer credit constituted only one-fifth of commercial credit in the past, but is now one-third.» He said what was more dangerous with consumer credits was that they promoted expensive imports, especially luxury cars, sales of which stood at $5.5 billion last year. Data show that 68 percent of the 143,390 cars sold in Turkey in the first four months of 2004 were imported.