The Bold Voice of J&K

NPAs; government must act before it’s late

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Joginder Singh 

Every individual, even without having studied economics, is best in managing his/her personal finances. As a primary school student in a Government school in Abohar, and then as a student in a middle school in Jalalabad, where a piece of land was allotted to my father and grand father, my daily allowance was half-anna.
It was in 1953, when I was a student in a high school in Ferozepur, my father gave me Rs 20 for month expenditure. This included my hostel fees, my fooding, school fees and fare for visiting my parents from Ferozepur to Jalalabad. There were no private schools, but a few colleges in that category.
Even when I went for my higher studies in a Government college in Ludhiana, I had a shoestring budget of a princely sum of Rs 125 per month. If I, as a student, without having studied economics, can manage my expenses well within the above mentioned budget, why can’t our rulers, who have vast experience and understanding of governance, and enough parliamentary material, do the same?
Even when an individual money lender advances money to anybody, he makes sure that he takes adequate security measures, in the form of jewellery or any other property, so that his own interests are safe guarded.
There are people call the money lenders, usurer or literally a blood sucker, as they charge high interest rates so that at least their original loan amount does not vanish. But our Governments, by way of nationalised banks, which are also our Government banks, have the opposite approach.
Except for the judiciary, the Election Commission and the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India, all other Government agencies function as per its expressed or implied or anticipated wishes.
Even our Legislators, at the national or even at the State level, with the exception of a few, are not above the level of making recommendations of all kinds, including huge Government bank loans, which are euphemistically called non-performing assets (NPAs), and not bad debts.
Taking suo motu cognisance of a media report that public sector banks (PSBs) had written off Rs 1,14,000 crore in the last three years, the Supreme Court directed the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to submit a list of defaulters who owe Rs 500 crore or more to the banks.

Adducing the list, the RBI said that it was “extremely necessary” to keep these names confidential due to their “fiduciary relationship”. Funny argument and incomprehensible to most of us, as to what purpose it serves, nationally.
Data from 16 banks show that the write-off by State Bank of India (SBI) and Bank of India stood at more than Rs 83,000 crore in the last 10 years whereas it was around Rs 44,850 crore for 14 other PSBs.
In 2011-2012, SBI wrote off Rs 982 crore as NPAs, but this figure shot up to Rs 15,509 crore in 2014-2015. Almost all banks witnessed a consistent rise in bad debts since 2011-2012. IDBI’s write-off jumped five times since 2011 when it declared Rs 319 crore as NPAs whereas in 2014-2015, it wrote off Rs 1,609 crore.
Data provided by PSBs, in response to a Right to Information (RTI) application filed, shows that the amount written off by SBI and Bank of India is 250 per cent more than that by 14 other banks in the last three years.
While most of us learn from our mistakes and do our best to avoid them, but as far as Governments are concerned, successive Governments have a different approach. They feel that they know better than their predecessors. Committing a dacoity or robbery is a cognisable offence and is criminally punishable, but rarely action has been taken against individual bank looters, except in some cases.
It is not that this problem does not have a solution. It can be solved in a jiffy, only if the Government wants. The All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA) has named 5,610 wilful defaulters, who collectively defrauded public sector and private sector banks in India of a staggering amount of Rs 58,792 crore as on March this yera. As per the All India Banker’s Union, the following names of NPA firms figure in the Banks List, to quote only a few:
Top defaulters of PSU banks and financial institutions included Winsome Diamonds and Jewellery Ltd with a default amount of over Rs 2,266 crore, Forever Precious jewellery & Diamonds (Rs 1,001 crore), Kingfisher Airlines Ltd (Rs 1,201 crore), Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd (Rs 884 crore), Indian Technomac Co Ltd (Rs 625 crore), Rank Industries (Rs 566 crore), Raza Textiles (Rs 694.59 crore), Rei Agro Ltd (Rs 580 crore), S Kumars Nationwide Ltd (Rs 598 crore), Zenith Birla (India) Ltd (Rs 139 crore), Zoom Developers (Rs 1,710 crore), and Electrotherm India (Rs 385 crore).
For SBI and its five associate banks, the number of wilful defaulters was 1,546 with a total defaulted amount at Rs 18,576 crore. The Government should ask the Income Department to inquire that in the cases of loanees, as to how much tax they have paid and whether it is against the loans taken.

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