Sitharaman to meet CEOs of PSU banks to review performance, restructuring scheme

PTI, Aug 15, 2021, 2:10 PM IST

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is scheduled to meet heads of public sector banks (PSBs) on August 25 to review the financial performance of the lenders and progress made by them to support the economy battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given the importance of the banking sector in generating demand and boosting consumption, sources said the meeting with the MD and CEOs of PSBs is considered important.

Recently, the finance minister said the government is ready to do everything required to revive and support economic growth hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Growth will be given its importance. Growth will be pushed both by the Reserve Bank and by us…,” she had said.

Interestingly, this would be the first physical review meeting since the outbreak of the pandemic in March last year.

The meeting is expected to take stock of the banking sector, progress on restructuring 2.0 scheme announced by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), sources said, adding that banks may be nudged to push loan growth in productive sectors.

The revamped Rs 4.5 lakh crore Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) would also be reviewed during the meeting likely to be held in Mumbai, sources said.

Besides, the finance minister is expected to take stock of the bad loan or non-performing asset (NPA) situation, and discuss various recovery measures by banks, they said.

As a result of the government’s strategy of recognition, resolution, recapitalisation and reforms, NPAs have declined to Rs 7,39,541 crore on March 31, 2019, Rs 6,78,317 crore on March 31, 2020, and further to Rs 6,16,616 crore as on March 31, 2021 (provisional data).

At the same time, comprehensive steps were taken to control and to effect recovery in NPAs, which enabled PSBs to recover Rs 5,01,479 crore over the last six financial years, the government informed Parliament recently.

As far as credit growth of scheduled commercial banks (SCBs) is concerned, it has remained positive for 2020-21 despite the contraction in GDP (-7.3 percent) due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gross loans and advances, outstanding of SCBs, increased from Rs 109.19 lakh crore as of March 31, 2020, to Rs 113.99 lakh crore as of March 31, 2021. Agriculture and allied activities, micro, small and medium enterprises, housing and auto have witnessed a year-on-year growth of 12.3 percent, 8.5 percent, 9.1 percent and 9.5 percent, respectively, during the year.

Notwithstanding economic disruptions caused by the pandemic, PSBs have managed to raise a record Rs 58,700 crore from markets in 2020-21 through a mix of debt and equity to enhance their capital base. As a result, the capital:risk-weighted assets ratio rose to 14.04 percent as of March 31, 2021, as against the regulatory requirement of 10.875 percent, boosting the ability of PSBs to further increase lending.

As a result, PSBs in aggregate recorded a profit of Rs 31,816 crore, the highest in five years, despite a 7.3 percent contraction in the economy in 2020-21.

The primary reason for PSBs to post such a Rs 57,832-crore turnaround from a loss of Rs 26,015 crore in 2019-20 to a combined profit of Rs 31,816 crore was the end of their legacy bad loan problem

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