Deadline for banks to clean up books ‘stands’ at 17 March: RBI

RBI deputy governor Vishwanathan asks banks to clean up their balance sheet at 17 March 2017, even as its governor Urjit Patel hinted at pragmatic approach in dealing with NPAs


RBI deputy governor Vishwanathan said bad loans in the infrastructure sector is close to 16-17% of the total advances. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint
RBI deputy governor Vishwanathan said bad loans in the infrastructure sector is close to 16-17% of the total advances. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint

Mumbai: Reserve Bank deputy governor N.S. Vishwanathan on Tuesday said the deadline for banks to clean up their balance sheet ‘stands’ at March 2017, even as its governor Urjit Patel hinting at pragmatic approach in dealing with NPAs.

“It ( March 2017 deadline to clean up of balance sheet) stands,” Vishwanathan told reporters when asked if the clean up deadline remains unchanged. He was at Infrastructure finance summit organised by Assocham.

Indicating a shift from his predecessor Raghuram Rajan’s ‘deep-surgery’ policy on bad loans, Patel in October had said that the RBI will be firm but pragmatic in dealing with bank NPAs so that the economy does not feel lack of credit to support growth.

When asked about the stress asset trends in September quarter, Vishwanathan said incremental stress is coming down.

“The basic way we are looking at is that the increment (in stress) is coming down. we are seeing the trend across the sectors ,” Vishwanathan said.

In August this year, RBI deputy governor S.S. Mundra had said level of stressed advances in banking sector has risen to 12% as gross non-performing assets nearly doubled to 8.7% in June quarter.

System-level stressed advances, which includes GNPAs and restructured standard advances during March 2016, were 11.4%, while they were at 10.9% as of March 2015.

Mundra had said stressed assets of public sector banks have jumped to 15.4% in the June quarter as against 14.4% in March 2016 and 13.2% in March 2015.

Earlier speaking at the event, Vishwanathan said bad loans in the infrastructure sector is close to 16-17% of the total advances.

“It is an important issue and we need to have various ways to deal with it,” he said. He said the structuring of infrastructure financing has to be very correct as their projects have long gestation. “These are long gestation project that need to have a proper mix of equity and loan funding,” he said.

The timeline for completion of project need to assessed realistically upfront so that the date of commencement of commercial operations (DCCO) is not artificially fixed without taking into consideration the normal time taken for executing such projects.

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