No more bad loans, steel sector crisis is over: Minister Birender Singh

Birender Singh, Union Minister of Steel
Expressing satisfaction over the resolution process of defaulting steel firms under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, Union Minister for Steel, Chaudhary Birender Singh Friday said the crisis in the steel sector is over and banks will not face such huge NPA problem from this industry anymore.

He also said that the government is planning to revive the Karnataka-based Visvesvaraya Iron and Steel Limited (VISL) apart from taking various business development plans for KIOCL (formerly Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited). 

"Currently, five steel accounts have been referred to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). Out of this, resolution process for some NPA accounts have been completed. These things clearly show that banks are more than satisfied (with the outcome of the resolution process)," Singh said. "I hope that banks will not face this kind of problem in the future as that chapter is over." 

Reserve Bank of India has referred 12 bad loan accounts of large corporates for resolution. Out of these, five belonged to the steel industry including Essar Steel, Bhushan Steel, Electrosteel and Monnet Ispat among others. 
Under the insolvency resolution procedure, only Bhushan Steel had been resolved successfully with Tata Steel buying out 72 per cent stake in the company for Rs 352 billion. Lenders to Bhushan Steel had to take a 37 per cent haircut under this resolution process.

Meanwhile, the Union Minister for Steel also said that imposition of tariffs by the US government on certain steel products would have minimal impact on the domestic steel industry.

Giving a snapshot on improving performance of the steel sector, Singh said that exports had surged 102 per cent to 8.2 million tonne in 2016-17 and rose 17 per cent to 9.6 million tonne in 2017-18. At the same time, imports have declined by 36 per cent from 11.7 million tonne in 2015-16 to 7.5 million tonne in 2017-18.

"We are working on technology initiatives where our dependence on coking coal will be reduced in the coming years," Singh said. Coking coal, one of the key ingredients of steel making, is mostly imported from other countries as India has less reserve of the commodity.

The Union Minister also said that Karnataka-based Visvesvaraya Iron and Steel Limited (VISL) will be revived soon. "The present capacity of 0.4 million tonne will be raised to 1 million tonne with replacement of old machines with new. Moreover, Karnataka government has recommended to the Mines Ministry for giving a mine lease to VISL," Singh said. 

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