State Bank of India Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya on Wednesday said percentages of the public sector’s non-performing assets – Rs 10 lakh crore as of the last quarter – would come down immediately once the situation in the three to four units is resolved, reported CNBC-TV18. The overall NPAs in the steel industry are as high as 19% at the moment.
“At the end of the day risk is in the micro, not in the macro and therefore you should not go with the percentages,” Bhattacharya said on the sidelines of the Centrum conference. “The percentages at this point of time are looking large because there are some three or four very large units over there. You resolve those three or four units and the percentages will come down immediately.”
Bhattacharya spoke of a vicious cycle in which it had become difficult for banks to lend to assets that were non-performing, but she said that banks have not stopped lending despite this.
“You have to understand banks are cautious, as they should be, but it does not mean that they have stopped lending,” she said. “That is not the case at all.”
She said banks will support all units that have potential. “You have to look at units that have all of their various pieces in order meaning that they have the right kind of equity structure, they have the right kind of governance structure, they have the right kind of mix of products, and they have the right kind of margins,” she said. “Now if you have units of this nature, I see no reason why the banks will not support them.”
Banks in the public sector unit wrote off a record Rs 81,683 crore in bad loans for the 2016-17 financial year. Non-performing assets in 2015-16 were Rs 57,586 crore, 41% less than the latest figures of the Finance Ministry. The combined profits of the banks in 2015-16 was Rs 474 crore.
This was despite the Finance Ministry directing banks to take measures against NPAs, including changing loan recovery laws and empowering the Reserve Bank of India to rapidly start insolvency processes against stressed assets.