‘Working on plan to rebuild capacity of banking sector’
FINANCE Minister Arun Jaitley has said the Government, faced with a “catch22 situation” over the issue of nonperforming assets, is working on a plan to rebuild the capacity of India’s banking sector so as to support growth.
Jaitley, who is on a week-long visit to the US to attend the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, also said that reforming the banking system is the top agenda of the Government.
“Today, with global growth turning around, we are working to put up an actual plan in play to deal with the banking situation, which is top of our agenda. We need to rebuild the capacity (of the banking sector),” Jaitley told students of Harvard University in Boston. “I inherited a banking system whose monies were lying in non-performing assets... Are unable to service the debt. We are faced with a catch22 situation as to how do we improve the capacity of the banks so that they can support growth,” he said.
So, all these factors together adversely impacted the private sector, the Minister said. Gross non-performing assets (NPA) of the public sector banks rose to Rs 6.41 lakh crore at the end of March 2017 as against Rs 5.02 lakh crore a year ago, according to Finance Ministry data.
Jaitley, however, also noted that bigger enterprises did not suffer, because they approached the bond market and foreign funding which were available at much cheaper rates. They did not had to go to th Indian banks.
It is small and medium-sized enterprises that need the support of the banking system, Jaitley said, noting that SMEs are huge job creators.
“That’s where the problem really is as far as the private sector is concerned,” Jaitley said.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley delivers the Harvard Mahindra lecture at the Harvard South Asia Institute in Boston on Wednesday.