India’s public sector banks are staging a strong recovery from the bad loan crisis with 13 banks reporting profits in the first half of the current financial year. Reforms undertaken by the government have restored banks to health, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman informed bankers citing the decline of the gross non-performing assets of PSU banks from Rs 8.96 lakh crore to Rs 7.27 lakh crore in 18 months to September 2019.
The finance minister launched an e-auction platform to ensure transparent sale of assets worth Rs 2.3 lakh crore attached by the PSU banks in the last three financial years. The platform has property search feature and links to e-auction sites, as well as single-window access to information on properties put up for sale. It also contains facility for comparison of properties, and photographs and videos of assets. The PSU banks have already uploaded 35,000 properties on the platform. The banks have recovered Rs 4.53 lakh crore in the last 4½ years. In addition, the Essar resolution decision has resulted in the recovery of Rs 38,896 crore.
The government has approved a capital infusion of Rs 8,855 crore in addition to the Rs 60,314 crore made earlier to strengthen the public sector lenders and the amount will be released soon.
The finance minister ensured banks that they need not fear investigating agencies while following prudent lending practices. The decision making has been hampered by the three Cs – the Central Bureau of Investigation, Central Vigilance Commission and the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, she said. The meeting was an effort to bring the top bankers and the CBI together to remove the apprehensions about the investigating agencies.
Apart from the chiefs of PSU banks, chief executive of Indian Banks Association and representatives of leading private sector banks attended the meeting. The secretaries of finance, revenue, economic affairs and information technology secretary, RBI representative, the CBI director and NPCI chief executive were also present.
The PSU banks have sanctioned more than 11.68 lakh repo-linked loans to retail borrowers and to MSMEs amounting to Rs 1.32 lakh crore since the finance minister’s announcement in September on steps to boost the economy. They are offering up to 25% increase in working capital limits for standard MSME accounts as a standby line of credit.