Mumbai: In a bid to aid urban cooperative banks (UCBs) recover the over Rs 10,000 crore in bad debt, the Maharashtra government has liberalised norms on interest repayments for getting money back in case of impaired loans.
Under the revised norms, banks will be able to charge lower interest rate than the contracted amount in order to recover money from the non-performing assets (NPAs), a cooperatives department official told PTI here. A floor of 8 per cent per annum for three years from the date of a loan turning into an NPA has been set to push the recovery efforts, the official said.
Earlier, the UCBs were not allowed to take a hit on interest repayments even while dealing with stressed borrowers, which impeded the recovery efforts. Lending by the UCBs happens at interest rates of 12 to 14 per cent. There are over 500 UCBs in the state, which are regulated jointly by the banking watchdog Reserve Bank and the state governments.
It can be noted that commercial lenders give up on interest repayments and also take a hit on principal amounts while dealing with stressed borrowers. The government has also restricted the period for charging the interest to three years from the date of loan turning NPA, the official said. “Earlier, the interest used to be charged for more than three years making it more difficult for the borrower to repay. Now, the interest beyond three years will be waived off,” he said.
The Maharashtra government has now also allowed attaching of the salary account of a borrower whose loan turned bad, the official said. Now, the debt can be recovered from a borrower’s salary account in instalments, he said. Maharashtra Urban Cooperative Banks Federation Ltd president Vidyadhar Anaskar dubbed it as a “landmark decision”, and expressed hope that this will help in speedy recovery of the debts and make the banks more dynamic. “There are 507 UCBs in the state with Rs 4 lakh crore deposits. The total borrowing from the UCBs is Rs 1.53 lakh crore while the NPAs are worth Rs 10,770 crore,” he said.
Anaskar is hopeful that with the government’s decision, the UCBs will be able to recover a major chunk of the NPAs. He said till now if a borrower was unable to repay the principle amount of loan after a couple of years, then it was nearly impossible for him to repay the entire amount with a higher interest rate. “It was like a deadlock situation and the banks had to make provision from their own funds against these NPAs. It was affecting the business development capacity of the UCBs, which are the backbone of the small and medium scale industries,” he said.