What is the Expected Credit Loss (ECL) Regime?

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What is the Expected Credit Loss (ECL) Regime? Blog Image


Credit rating agency India Ratings and Research recently said that banks would have adequate time and financial strength to absorb the impact of transition to expected credit loss regime.

Why in News?

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recently proposed to move the banking system to an expected credit loss-based provisioning approach from an “incurred loss” approach.

What is a loan-loss provision?

  • The RBI defines a loan loss provision as an expense that banks set aside for defaulted loans.
  • Banks set aside a portion of the expected loan repayments from all loans in their portfolio to cover the losses either completely or partially
  • In the event of a loss, instead of taking a loss in its cash flows, the bank can use its loan loss reserves to cover the loss.
  • The level of loan loss provision is determined based on the level expected to protect the safety and soundness of the bank.

What is the Expected Credit Loss (ECL) regime?

  • Under this practice, a bank is required to estimate expected credit losses based on forward-looking estimations rather than wait for credit losses to be actually incurred before making corresponding loss provisions.
  • As per the proposed framework, banks will need to classify financial assets (primarily loans) as Stage 1, 2, or 3, depending on their credit risk profile, with Stage 2 and 3 loans having higher provisions based on the historical credit loss patterns observed by banks.
  • This will be in contrast to the existing approach of incurred loss provisioning, whereby step-up provisions are made based on the time the account has remained in the Non-Performing Asser (NPA) category.
  • Benefits of the ECL regime:
    • It will result in excess provisions as compared to a shortfall in provisions, as seen in the incurred loss approach.
    • It will further enhance the resilience of the banking system in line with globally accepted norms.

What is the problem with the incurred loss-based approach?

  • It requires banks to provide for losses that have already occurred or been incurred.
  • The delay in recognizing loan losses resulted in banks having to make higher levels of provisions which affected the bank's capital. This affected banks’ resilience and posed systemic risks.
  • The delays in recognizing loan losses overstated the income generated by the banks, which, coupled with dividend payouts, impacted their capital base.


Q1) What is a Non-Performing Asset (NPA)?

A NPA refers to a classification for loans or advances that are in default or in arrears. A loan is in arrears when principal or interest payments are late or missed. A loan is in default when the lender considers the loan agreement to be broken and the debtor is unable to meet his obligations.

Source: Banks can absorb expected credit loss regime impact: India Ratings