New Delhi, March 14 : Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Monday that his government will find a lasting solution to the financial stress of banks by addressing issues at the core of the problem – over-borrowing by long-troubled sectors like steel, sugar, power and highways. In his reply in the Lok Sabha to the debate on the Union Budget 2016-17, the minister said banks stress on account of fraud, where defaulters have wilfully declined to repay loans, will be dealt with legally. (Read: RBI moves on banks’ bad loans in right direction: IMF chief Christine Lagarde)
“But there are also some other issues due to which non-performing assets (NPAs) have added up in the banking system,” he said, adding that some genuine economic reasons for the delays in repayments to banks were required to be addressed. In steel, he said, it was dumping by China. In sugar, it was low global prices, while in power, it was indiscriminate moves by some states to sell electricity below cost, forcing distribution companies to resort to borrowing. In highways, it was poor policy implementation that had crippled the sector, Jaitley said.
“But all these are being tackled with appropriate policy action,” he said. “There is no point in pushing dirt under the carpet and saying the room is clean,” he added.
Jaitley listed the steps taken by his government such as the anti-dumping duty and high minimum import price of steel, high customs duty on sugar and the Uday discoms’ debt restructure package for power utilities.
The NPAs of public sector banks (PSBs) have increased by close to Rs.1 lakh crore in the first nine months of the current fiscal, parliament was told last week.