A clerk counts cash at a bank outlet in Hai’an county, Jiangsu province. [Photo/China Daily]

BEIJING – China’s outstanding loans to individual businesses stood at 5.4 trillion yuan ($834.9 billion) at the end of March, according to China’s top banking and insurance regulator.

This marked a 29 percent increase compared with the same period last year, said the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC).

Authorities’ move to encourage loans to individual businesses has provided solid financial support for the recovery and development of individual businesses, it said.

The average rate of interest charged on loans to individual companies was 6.2 percent by the end of March, down 1.3 percentage points from 2019, data from the CBIRC shows.

Authorities will extend the policy of deferring principal and interest payments on loans to small and micro businesses to cover truck drivers, taxi drivers, online shop owners and other self-employed individuals.