Banks eyeing big-ticket reforms in budget: Survey
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New Delhi: Banks expect finance minister Arun Jaitley to announce a slew of measures for the sector in Budget 2017-18, including a hike in Foreign direct investment (FDI) limit for public sector lenders to 49% and additional capital infusion to boost credit growth, according to a report.
The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (Ficci)-IBA Survey of Bankers, which included responses from 17 public, private as well as foreign banks representing 52% of the total banking industry by asset size, said that lenders witnessed a slowdown in credit demand owing to the cash crunch post demonetisation which led to lower consumption.
However, many respondents expect credit demand to improve after 3-6 months as economic activities are expected to pick up by that time. On the other hand, flush with liquidity, a majority of banks (82% of those polled) reported a rise in their low cost current account and saving account (CASA) deposits during the period July-December 2016.
In fact, 53% of the respondent banks reported a substantial increase in CASA deposits and attributed the same to demonetisation, besides their own efforts to mobilise opening of savings account. Notably, in the previous survey round, only 25% of respondents had reported a substantial increase, while 50% had reported a moderate increase in such deposits. Lenders believe a hike in FDI limit for state-owned banks (from 20% to 49%) will help in raising further capital and thereby meeting capital requirements under Basel-III norms.
In the budget, banks also expect the government to boost consumption demand and investment through reduction in corporate as well as personal income tax, and by providing additional deductions under section 80C and interest on home loans.
With a thrust on less-cash economy, banks are also eyeing additional incentives for digital transactions, including tax benefits for customers as well as merchants. They have also urged for enhancing capital expenditure, especially for infrastructure.
Other key suggestions include measures to fast track NPA resolution, creation of a Central Corporate Repository (CRR) and interest payment on CRR balance. Banks also felt interest subvention for farm loans should be parked with them in advance, as it takes 7-8 months for settlement of claims, leading to interest loss. They also want the government to announce additional tax incentives for customers on term deposits, such as reduction in lock-in period for tax saver fixed deposits, and increase in tax exemption limit for interest income from term deposits.
The survey revealed that iron and steel, infrastructure and textiles continue to account for a large concentration of non-performing assets (NPAs). Overall, the number of banks reporting a rise in the level of NPAs is lower in the current round of the survey as against the preceding round. While 76% of the participating banks reported a rise in the level of NPAs during July-December, 85% had reported so for the preceding six month period. Going forward, the key sectors identified by banks which could see a greater demand for long term credit include infrastructure, automobiles and food processing.