The System of Reserve Requirements in Suriname

Recent Developments

 

Introduction

Historically, reserve requirements have existed owing to prudential considerations. Required reserves provided some protection against both, liquidity and solvency risks of banks. However, the role of reserve requirements has evolved significantly over time, including monetary control and liquidity management functions. As an instrument of monetary policy, reserve requirements aim to regulate the credit supply of the commercial banks, and hence liquidity creation in the economy with the ultimate goal of managing inflation. From a liquidity management perspective, banks are allowed to use part of their required reserves for short-term liquidity management, to limit short-term interest rate volatility. Required reserves are thus met on average over the maintenance period.

The system of reserve requirements refers to administrative guidelines of the central bank mandating the banks to keep reserves in the form of vault cash and/or deposits at the central bank in a specified proportion of the stock or growth of certain items on their balance sheet. The technical design of these arrangements varies between countries[1]. In Suriname, a dual required reserve system exists, including the domestic currency reserve requirements and the foreign currency reserve requirements, both serving different purposes.

 

Reserve requirements for domestic currency deposits

On 15 May 2001, the reserve requirements arrangement was introduced for the commercial banks to replace the system of credit ceilings applied since 1968. The “General Regulation for reserve requirements for the Surinamese currency” of May 2001 governs the reserve requirement. The objective is to constrain the credit growth of the commercial banks, thereby limiting the growth of the money supply in order to promote the stability in the value of the Surinamese currency. The reserve requirement applies to the commercial banks’ deposit liabilities, referred to as "reserve base". The reserve base includes current account deposits, savings deposits, term deposits and other funds in domestic currency held by the public at the banks. The General Regulation obliges the banks to hold the required reserves in the form of unremunerated deposits at the Central Bank of Suriname (the Bank). The reserves are held in separate accounts that were opened for each bank to administer the required reserves. The required reserve ratio was initially set at 27½% of the reserve base. Since 4 November 2015, the ratio is 35%. Table 1 provides an overview of the adjustments in the reserve ratio in the course of time. An increase of the required reserve ratio indicates a contractionary monetary policy (absorbing liquidity) while a decrease signals an expansionary monetary policy (increasing liquidity). Policy decisions on the adjustment of the reserve ratio are subject to the prevailing and expected domestic financial and monetary developments and conditions.

 

[1] The required reserves regulation can sometimes relate to lending/investments and sometimes to deposits. A uniform required reserves ratio may apply, but there are also differentiated ratios. In some countries interest is paid on the required reserves, in other countries not. In addition, the types of financial institutions to which this regulation relates may vary.

  

Table 1:

 

 

The required reserves per bank are determined weekly on Wednesday by the Statistics Department based on the submitted reports of the banks. Subsequently, the required reserves account of each bank is debited or credited.

The General Regulation of May 2001 provides sanctions to be imposed in the form of penalty fees if a bank holds less reserve than required. The penalty fee entails an interest payment over the period of the shortfall based on the highest lending rate of the relevant bank plus two percentage points. In general, the banks comply with their required reserves obligation. The Bank has therefore rarely applied the penalty clause. In the event of a temporary liquidity shortage, banks can call on credit facilities available at the Bank.

 

Housing loan facility

On 12 September 2004, the Bank in collaboration with the commercial banks, introduced a loan facility for the construction, renovation and expansion of houses. Banks are allowed to allocate up to 10% of their reserve base for private residential construction. This ceiling is positively correlated with the growth of bank deposits, and is adjusted at the end of each quarter according to the stock of the reserve base at that particular moment. The main objective of the loan facility is to enable middle-income groups to build their own house at an affordable interest rate and thereby alleviating the housing deficiency.

The steady increase in the reserve base in the past years indicates that the housing loan facility appeared to be viable and sustainable over time. By setting up this facility, the Bank is meeting one of its main legal responsibilities, i.e. to promote a balanced social-economic development of Suriname, as stated in the Bank Act 1956.

 

The loans are provided at an annual interest rate of 7%. Initially, borrowers were allowed to borrow up to SRD 70.000 to build a new house with a maximum construction area of up to 150 m2. Alternatively, the targeted group can use the loan for repairs/renovation/expansion of an existing house with a maximum construction area of up to 275 m2. To qualify for a loan, applicants must have a monthly income between SRD 1,200 and SRD 4,000. The loan amount and the income categories were gradually adjusted in the course of time (table 2).

The latest amendment of the housing loan facility dates from 20 August 2018. The maximum loan amount was set to SRD 250,000 and the income category between SRD 2,000 and SRD 8,000. The commercial banks are also permitted to provide loans to acquire newly built houses as long as applicants are able to contribute 25% of the purchasing value with own funds. Furthermore, debtors are allowed to refinance an outstanding loan (at market rates) which was used to acquire land, provided that the applicant will build a house on that land and 75% of the loan has already been repaid. In addition, the sum of the remaining portion and the loan for the house to be constructed should not exceed the maximum loan amount.

 

Since the introduction of the housing loan facility, about 5,760 houses have been financed as of May 2019, on average 385 houses a year. Out of the total number, 3,385 houses were newly built, 1,142 houses were completed while the remaining houses were expanded, repaired or renovated.

The demand for these housing loans accelerated until 2008 and more or less stabilized thereafter. At the end of May 2019, SRD 452 million of the required reserves were utilized to finance the housing needs of households.

As commercial banks are allowed to use part of their required reserves to fund the housing loan facility, the effective required reserve ratio is considerably lower. At the end of May 2019, the effective SRD required reserve ratio was 26.3%. Consequently, the reserve requirement has a less constraining impact on the credit potential of the commercial banks than suggested by the nominal ratio of 35%. This implies that other borrowers of the commercial banks also benefited from lower interest rates. 

 

Table 2:

 

 

Reserve requirements for foreign currency deposits

As of 12 February 2003, the Bank also introduced reserve requirements for the foreign currency deposit liabilities of the commercial banks. The purpose of this regulation is to enhance the stability of the Surinamese currency on the one hand, and build a liquidity buffer on the other hand, in order to manage availability risk. Upon introduction, the required reserve ratio was set at 17½% of the reserve base and has been increased to 50% since 18 September 2013. Table 1 shows the adjustments of the reserve ratio over time. The gradual increase of the ratio was needed due to the high dollarization of the banking system, limiting the central bank in fulfilling the role of lender of last resort.

 

According to the 2003 Regulation, banks were allowed to hold the required reserves in US dollars and euros at correspondent banks abroad with an A-rating of Standard & Poor’s rating agency or an equivalent rating of a similar rating agency. The banks had to open US-dollar and euro accounts at foreign banks to administer the foreign currency required reserves. The euro accounts are used for administering transactions in euros. On the US-dollar accounts, transactions in US-dollars and in all other currencies except in euro, are administered for the equivalent value in US-dollars. The required reserves can be held as current account deposits or term deposits. As of 1st January 2006, the investment options for the banks have been broadened, allowing banks to invest part of their required reserves, after written approval from the Bank, in tradable and liquid bonds from issuers with a credit rating of at least ‘A’ granted by internationally recognized rating agencies (including Standard & Poor's, Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Rating Ltd.).

Recent changes to the foreign currency reserve requirements

Since 1 June 2019, it is mandatory for the commercial banks to hold their foreign currency required reserves at the Bank. More specifically, at least half of the required reserves in US-dollars must be held at the Bank on a US-dollar account. The remainder of the required reserve in US-dollars will be held by the banks at foreign banks, as was the case before. The full amount of the required reserves in euros must be held at the Bank on a euro account. The Bank will remunerate the banks on the required reserves in US-dollar and euro. The required reserves, which can be maintained as current account deposits, term deposit or bonds, are and will remain assets of the banks at their correspondent banks and the Bank, respectively.

 

Various arguments support the policy measure to transfer the foreign currency required reserves to the Bank. Firstly, and foremost, a prudential objective. Given the Bank's risk-free profile, maintaining the required reserves at the Bank will lead to an improvement in the solvency and therefore the solidity of the domestic banking system. Secondly, the role of the Bank as guardian of financial stability. In this role, the Bank is entrusted with the task of promoting and facilitating international payments transactions. It is noted that in May 2018, following the confiscation of the shipment of € 19.5 million by the Dutch Public Prosecutor, the Bank provided euros to the banks that were affected by the seizure in order to maintain financial stability. The Bank, therefore, fulfilled the role of "lender of last resort", which emphasizes the need for holding the foreign currency required reserves at the Bank. Reserves held at the Bank, will to some extent enable the Bank to perform the role of lender of last resort in foreign currency. Thirdly, maintaining the required reserves at the Bank is in accordance with international "best practices".

 

To ensure that the required reserves are properly managed, the banks put forward two important conditions for the transfer of the required reserves to the Bank, namely that their returns on the reserves should not decline and ring-fencing as a safety measure. The latter means that the reserves at all times will remain assets of the commercial banks and cannot be used for other purposes. The ring-fencing includes (1) setting up a Strategic Investment Committee (SIC) and (2) quarterly reporting of the investments and resources to the banks, which report should be prepared by an external auditor.

 

The SIC consists of nine officers: three representatives from the Bank, one of whom will act as chairman, two representatives from the Suriname Bankers’ Association, two representatives from the insurance industry and two representatives from the pension industry. The SIC is responsible for the investment policy of the Bank that is approved by the Governor of the Bank. High standards are set with regard to the liquidity and quality of the instruments in which may be invested. Except for the reserves of the commercial banks, the SIC is also responsible for the investment of funds that the insurance and pension industries have to hold at the Bank for prudential reasons.

 

Conclusion

The SRD reserve requirements serve primarily a monetary control function, while the foreign currency required reserves are held from prudential considerations. The decision to mandate the banks for holding 50% of their US-dollar required reserves and 100% of the euro required reserves at the Bank, is given by the Banks’ tasks to promote and facilitate payments abroad and a healthy banking and credit system in Suriname. To ensure that the Bank optimally manages the required reserves and the funds of the insurance companies and pension funds, a Strategic Investment Committee has been established. This Committee includes representatives from commercial banks, insurance companies and pension funds. The funds held at the Bank are and will remain assets of these institutions. In managing the funds and investments, the Bank will follow a very prudent policy stance to safeguard the confidence in the Bank.

  

STA, 9 September 2019 

Exchange RatesMarch 09th and until further notice

Currency Buying Selling
USD 14,018 14,290
EUR 16,628 16,959
GBP 19,396 19,782
ANG 7,699 7,852
AWG 7,784 7,939
BRL 2,438 2,485
TTD 2,063 2,103
BBD 6,907 7,044
XCD 5,190 5,293
PER 100 GYD 6,657 6,790

Gold CertificatesMarch 09th and until further notice

Coupon SRD
5 gram 7.814,97
10 gram 15.629,94
50 gram 78.149,69
100 gram 156.299,39
500 gram 781.496,94
1000 gram 1562993,88
Gold LME: USD 1.701,00 /tr.oz.

Inflation

  Average End-of-period
2012 5.0 4.3
2013 1.9 0.6
2014 3.4 3.9
2015 6.9 25.1
2016 55.5 52.4
2017 22.0  9.2 
2018 6.8# 5.4 
2019 4.4#  4.2 
2020 34.9 60.8
     
2021 Month-to-month Year-to-year
Jan 2.6 63.8
Feb 1.3 61.9
Mar 2.1 50.4
Apr 3.5 44.4
May 4.2 43.6
Jun 10.8 54.0
Jul*) 5.7 58.9

*) Preliminary figures

# 10-months inflation (Computations without data for May and June)

 

Weighted Average RatesSeptember 17 - 15:00h (Banknotes)

Currency Buying Selling
USD 21.348 21.518
EUR 23.632 23,829
GBP 29.460 30.043
ANG 11.730 11.962
AWG 11.860 12.095
BRL 4.054 4.134
TTD 3.152 3.215
BBD 10.524 10.732
XCD 7.907 8.063
PER 100 GYD 10.144 10.345
CNY 3.307 3.373

Gold CertificatesSeptember 17

Coupon SRD
5 gram 12.196,37
10 gram 24.392,74
50 gram 121.963,72
100 gram 243.927,43
500 gram 1.219.637,17
1000 gram 2.439.274,35
Gold LME: USD 1.756,90 /tr.oz.

Weighted Average Accepted
OMO Rate

Auction ID Auction Date Rate (%)
CBTD210915-1W 2021-09-15 15,0
CBTD210908-1W 2021-09-08 14,9
CBTD210901-01 2021-09-01 14,8
Balance sheet

Inflation

  Average End-of-period
2012 5.0 4.3
2013 1.9 0.6
2014 3.4 3.9
2015 6.9 25.1
2016 55.5 52.4
2017 22.0  9.2 
2018 6.8# 5.4 
2019 4.4#  4.2 
2020 34.9 60.8
     
2021 Month-to-month Year-to-year
Jan 2.6 63.8
Feb 1.3 61.9
Mar 2.1 50.4
Apr 3.5 44.4
May 4.2 43.6
Jun 10.8 54.0
Jul*) 5.7 58.9

*) Preliminary figures

# 10-months inflation (Computations without data for May and June)