New Delhi, Dec 5 (IANS): Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said the Opposition MPs raising questions on the government’s handling of non-performing assets (NPAs) should first recognise that India is now the world’s fastest-growing economy.
She also said that as of December 1, assets amounting to Rs 15,186.64 crore have been confiscated by the ED.
During the discussion in Rajya Sabha, Sitharaman said, "...'Phone Banking' was at that time when people would call the banks and say 'so and so will come to seek a loan from your bank, please grant it', meaning that there's no need to look at their eligibility, etc., and that the loan must be granted."
She said that the heart of the problem was during the 10 years of UPA rule between 2004 and 2014 when "calls" were made to grant loans to people who weren't worthy of getting a loan.
"The burden fell on us to sort the Indian banks out with reforms," she said.
She said, "Prime Minister Narendra Modi sat with all of us, including my predecessor Arun Jaitley ji.
"We spent a lot of time understanding where the problem was and worked together with the RBI," the Minister said.
She also said that "so the 'Phone Banking' was the method through which "political interference" spoilt all our banks and drove them to a loss-making situation".
"First, it must be looked at what contributed to the NPAs and made Indian banks actually have a twin balance-sheet problem which brought down the Indian economy to the 'fragile five'," Sitharaman said, adding that today, the Indian economy is the world's fastest-growing economy, "registering a 7.6 per cent GDP growth rate in the last quarter".
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh during the Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha said,"What extra and special steps are being taken to deal with wilful defaulters?"
Ramesh also said that "2,623 individuals owe the banks, amounting to Rs 1.96 lakh crore. Would she consider naming and shaming them?"
To this, Sitharaman replied, "Action is being taken on wilful defaulters. My answers in the Lok Sabha is indicative of the banks taking steps towards getting the money from these people. As of March 31, the legal suites were filed against 13,978 accounts. Action has been initiated in 11,483 sarfaesi cases. FIRs have been filed in 5,674 cases. Aggregate amount of Rs 33,801 crore has been recovered."
"Around more than Rs 15,000 crore was returned to the banks from defaulters on whom PMLA action was taken. As of December 1, assets amounting to Rs 15,186.64 crore have been confiscated by the ED," the Minister added.