Govt speaking to banks about stimulus package for economy: SBI chairman

Rajnish Kumar, chairman of State Bank of India (SBI)
The government is speaking to banks as it considers a stimulus package to revive India's economy that has hurt credit demand in its slump, said Rajnish Kumar, chairman of State Bank of India (SBI), in Kolkata on Sunday.

"Hopefully, with increased government spending, monsoons and festive season we will see credit demand. Last year we saw nearly 14 per cent credit growth at SBI, and this year we expect at least 12-14 per cent credit growth,” he said.

India’s economy grew at its slowest pace in more than four years in the January-March period, falling behind China’s pace for the first time in nearly two years and raising the prospect of fiscal stimulus. “About the size of the stimulus, consultations are going on and government is speaking all including banks,” said Kumar.

Banks had a large number of non-performing assets (NPA) in the farm sector lending because of fragmented land holdings and lack of modernisation in the sector, he said.

The Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY), the government's flagship credit scheme for micro and small enterprises, too had become a source of NPAs for banks and is being revamped, he said. 

SBI registered slippages amounting Rs 16,000 crore in the April-June 2019 quarter. In the retail sector, agricultural advances accounted for nearly 69 per cent of the total slippages. 

The total value of NPAs held by public sector banks under PMMY was close Rs 7,277.31 crore as of March 31, 2018, according to a recent written reply the government gave in the Rajya Sabha.

"These issues are being discussed with an open mind. Once these consultations are over we should be able to come up with a blueprint," he said.

On being asked about transmission of rate cut in terms of further MCLR reduction, Kumar said, “as a bank we need to strike a balance between lending rate and interest of the depositors.”  

Also, the bank was examining the possibility of giving the opportunity to migrate from MCLR to repo rate linked rate for home loan buyers. SBI was the first to launch a repo-rate linked home loan scheme, effective July 2019.

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