12 May, 2021

Rs 90,00,00,00,00,000

Post-Nirav Modi scam, the RBI’s tightening of the rules forces banks to treat more bad loans as NPAs, showing the extent of a crisis that’s been building for years—and intensifying it

58-foot effigy of Nirav Modi in Mumbai, for burning in Holi
Photograph by PTI
Rs 90,00,00,00,00,000

As the government and the ­Res­erve Bank of India (RBI) try to shake the Rs 13,000-crore PNB-Nirav Modi monkey off their backs, the bomb ticking on the banking sector’s doorstep is the rocketing NPAs (non-­per­forming assets). The last financial ­stability report by the RBI states that the asset quality of banks had deteriorated further with the gross non-­performing assets (GNPA) ratio likely to rise from 10.2 per cent of gross ­advances in September 2017 to 10.8 per cent in March 2018 and further to 11.1 per cent by September 2018.  That may be well over a whopping Rs 9 lakh crore by the end of this year.

Barring a few categories, loans for which no repayment has been made for 90 days are classified as NPAs. Under the various restructuring schemes, banks were prone to ever-greening big corporate and infrastructure loans to prevent them being classified as NPAs. This was contrary to the spirit of the restructuring schemes, according to senior bankers. “The main purpose of restructuring per se is to revive a unit. You...

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