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Rajan warns of action against banks hiding true NPA numbers

Source: PTI
August 04, 2015 21:00 IST
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Concerned over banks hiding their actual NPA numbers, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan on Tuesday said the central bank is "increasingly turning towards taking action" on such divergences.

The Reserve Bank closely monitors NPA numbers declared by banks and pulls them up if there are any divergences, Rajan said, without disclosing specific cases or actions.

Stating that RBI is less keen on providing forbearance going ahead to the companies with huge debt burden, Rajan said, "You need to do what you need to do. Take the medicine. Pushing up in the future is going to create bigger problem."

Asked about banks hiding their true NPA levels, the central bank chief said, "We inspect the banks regularly and we figure it out if something that is not a standard asset is not declared an NPA. These are called divergences.

"In some banks, there are more divergences than others, in which case they have a pretty strong discussion with deputy governor SS Mundra who hauls them up for doing what they did."

"Increasingly we are turning towards taking action on such divergences. It's not that these things get done with impunity," Rajan told reporters, but parried a direct answer.

He said RBI has put in place a number of checks and balances to ensure that NPAs which are announced by banks are true and give a fair picture.

It may be noted that many state-run banks, despite reporting massive drops in bottomline numbers, declared lower slippages during the June quarter even as they set aside more money as provisions.

In the quarter to March 2014, the system-level NPAs including restructured assets, crossed a whopping 11.5 per cent, led by public sector banks. In the June quarter, not only most of the large and mid-sized state-run banks but also many private players reported rising asset quality woes.

Rajan said there are certain sectors like power and steel which are still under stress.

"We are certainly monitoring that process and trying to urge that restructuring when done is deep and is appropriate so projects are put back on track. That is what we need for continuing health on banking system but the economy," he said.

"The central factors in this are power distribution companies. If they get resolved in a more permanent way, then that would alleviate some stress in the power sector.

"Our focus is how can we resolve the distribution company stress in a proper way," Rajan said.

The Governor said the RBI is examining the 5:25 rules to make sure it is used for right purpose. "The point is not to postpone problem into the future or postpone repayment way into future. We are insisting that there should not be a significant moratorium on repayment in the 5:25 rule," the Governor said.

Talking about the capital infusion into public sector banks, deputy governor SS Mundra said, the capital required will in the range of Rs 1.50-2.50 trillion over the period of four-five years for implementation of Basel III norms depending on credit growth. 

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