State Bank of India asset quality remains healthy: Chairman Khara

Dinesh Kumar Khara, SBI Chairman

The asset quality situation at State Bank of India (SBI) remains healthy and the faster-than-expected economic recovery may limit the impact to lenders' balance sheets, the bank's Chairman Dinesh Kumar Khara said on Thursday.

He, however, did not share details on the COVID-related loan restructuring for SBI citing the silent period ahead of the results.

It can be noted that in the bi-annual Financial Stability Report (FSR) released last month, the RBI had expected banks' non-performing assets to deteriorate further because of the pandemic and asked them to be cautious.

"I would also mention that the asset quality book of the bank remains healthy," Khara told reporters on the sidelines of an event here.

The macroeconomic situation is not the same as it was in April, and with the ease in restrictions post lockdown, we have seen a recovery process which led to growth in different pockets, he said.

He acknowledged that the macro-economy had seen difficulties at a point of time and the cash flows for the corporates had also been impacted.

Better treatment for COVID-19 patients and the arrival of vaccines have also improved confidence which is pushing economic recovery, he said.

Hinting that the cash flows for the corporates have improved because of interventions like the ones the government has taken, Khara answered a specific question on asset quality saying, "These are the positives which we have seen. This gives the confidence that perhaps situation may not turn out to be as bad."

Khara, who took charge as the chairman of SBI in October 2020, said it is important for the lenders to keep in touch with their borrowers at this crucial time to help and counsel them as and when required.

To a question of restructuring witnessed by the bank, he said the bank is analysing the cash flows of companies who have applied for the relief and will be taking a call based on the same, but declined to specify the quantum of relief sought.

The SBI chairman, who was speaking after the listing ceremony for a USD 600 million bond issue on the India INX, said the coupon rate of 1.80 per cent at which the bonds were issued is the lowest since 2008 and a big confidence booster not just for the bank but also for the Indian economy.

"We have demonstrated the strength of the Indian economy," he said.

He declined to comment on his budget expectations, saying the same were conveyed during meetings to the government.

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