RBI to meet bankers to discuss NPA, says no concern for now

RBI to meet bankers to discuss NPA
Mumbai, Jan 24 (PTI) The Reserve Bank today said there is no concern about the level of non-performing assets (NPAs) in the banking system and it would soon meet 10 large banks to take stock of the situation.

"Whatever (NPA) figure is being reported, we don't find anything to worry. We have done a stress test in the Financial Stability Report and we don't have anything to worry about," Deputy Governor of RBI K C Chakrabarty said. He added, however, that the central bank would soon meet 10 large banks to ascertain the situation.

"Just now, we have no concern. But, we are concerned about how the message is going from the media and analysts (to the public).

So, we will discuss with the banks about the NPA issue," Chakrabarty said. Referring to sector specific stress points, he said the central bank is not uncomfortable about lending to any particular sector.

"We don't have, as of now, any sector specific concerns. If you analyse, the gross NPA which is 2.66 percent now was 2.8 percent in 2007," he said, adding that the NPA numbers reported in sectors like telecom and power distribution companies (Discom) are minimal compared to total portfolio.

"In case of power, the reported NPA is Rs 768 crore out of Rs 2,60,000 crore (of portfolio).

So, we don't have any concerns. Even the restructured standard asset is not substantial. That (NPA) has happened not only because of credit squeeze, but due to various other factors related to project implementation," he said.

The central bank also clarified that it would not intervene in banks' decision to stop lending to power discoms. "Whether banks (will) continue to lend, or stop lending to discoms and on what basis, it is between state government, banks and discoms. We will not intervene in this matter," RBI Governor D Subbarao said.

He quoted instances of letters received from state governments asking for intervention to restart lines of credit discontinued by banks. A recent Crisil report said losses of Discoms (power distribution companies) rose 24 per cent to Rs 27,500 crore between 2006-07 and 2009-10, which could rise to about Rs 35,000 crore in 2010-11 as power tariffs were not revised by state governments along with various other issues.

Subbarao also said that he is not comfortable with the idea of converting public carrier Air India's debt into SLR (Statutory Liquidity Ratio) bonds.

Banks are struggling to recover Rs 19,000 crore from the ailing national carrier and one of the three proposals floated to restructure includes converting the outstanding debt into Government bonds which could be transfered to the banks' SLR portfolio.


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