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Govt of India using adjudication bodies to "help out" corporate defaulters of banks: TU-civil society meet

By Our Representative
A joint meeting of civil society and trade union organizations has accused the Government of India of making frenzied attempts of pushing nationalized banks through Reserve Bank of India to take defaulting companies to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), and start bankruptcy proceeding. This, the meet said, is a major reason for a sharp rise in non-performing assets (NPAs) of banks.
Providing an example, meet was told, Bhushan Power and Steel Ltd defaulted on Rs 37,248 crore, and now under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016 -- the insolvency and bankruptcy law -- Tata Power and JSW Steel Ltd have bid Rs 17,000 crore and Rs 11,000 crore to buy it up.
If the deal materializes, banks will lose over Rs 20,000 crore of public money and companies will just shake off their debt without any repercussion. Hence, the more companies are taken to NCLT, the more loss for banks. Especially smaller banks which unable to provide provisions will go bust, it was pointed out.
A quasi-judicial body that adjudicates issues relating to companies in India, NCLT was established under the Companies Act 2013 and was constituted on June 1, 2016. It consolidates corporate jurisdiction of the Company Law Board, Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR), Appellate Authority for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (AAIFR) and the powers relating to winding up or restructuring and other provisions, vested in High Courts.
Organized in Delhi by Act Now for Harmony & Democracy (ANHAD), All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC), Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG), National Alliance of People¹s Movements (NAPM), and New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI), the meet discussed on how the government is letting go wilful defaulters of bank scams.
The meeting was organised in the wake of recent spate of fraud unearthed at the Punjab National Bank, which "exposed" the crises and challenges being faced by public sector banks in general, and poor strategies of the government to deal with rising NPAs.
Among those who addressed the meeting included Gautam Modi, general secretary, NTUI; CPI(M) leader Nilotpal Basu; Anupam from Swaraj India; MK Venu, senior journalist with the "The Wire"; Mohan Guruswamy, policy analyst; Meera Nangia from Delhi University; and Moumita from AIBOC.
Pointing out that big corporations who owe 80% of NPAs go scot-free, speakers said, according to government data, between 2014 and 2017, in all 1,146 cases of fraud cases were registered where employees of public sector banks were involved. Another and 568 cases have been registered vis-a-vis private sector banks.
"The same data also shows that considering that 70% of market share is held by the public sector banks, and that fraud cases are more in private sector banks compared to their public counterpart", the meeting was told.
Speakers said, looking at only the scams would be myopic if we do not consider the ‘legal’ loot of public money -- the write-offs. Just in 2016 -17 alone public sector banks had written-off Rs 81,683 crore worth of bad loans. The Punjab National Bank alone had written-off Rs 9,205 crore.
It was also suggested that the recovery rates of loans in IBC have "not been encouraging", and in some cases banks only got 6% of the total loan. At the core of the problem lies in the fact that the larger the loan, lesser the security and collateral. Hence it is easier for big borrowers to get large loans from banks without much risk. This cavalier attitude has plummeted into a banking sector crisis.

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