The Narendra Modi government on Saturday announced various steps including strengthening of the digital payment system and a common e-auction platform for banks.
While chairing a meeting of chiefs of public sector banks (PSBs), chief executive of Indian Banks’ Association and representatives of leading private sector banks, union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman instructed state-run banks to clear pending vigilance cases against their officials for alleged malpractices.
Finance secretary, revenue secretary, economic affairs secretary, electronics and information technology secretary, CBI Director, RBI representative and the chief executive officer of NPCI were also present in the meeting.
In a move towards a less-cash economy, the department of revenue will notify RuPay and UPI as the prescribed mode of payment for undertaking digital transactions without any merchant discount rates (MDR).
Accordingly, all companies with a turnover of Rs 50 crore or more shall be mandated by the department of revenue to provide the facility of payment through RuPay Debit card and UPI QR code to their customers. Also, all banks will also start a campaign to popularise RuPay Debit Card and UPI.
The move comes in the wake of finance minister's budget speech of 2019-20, where she announced that business establishments with an annual turnover of more than Rs 50 crore shall offer low-cost digital modes of payment to their customers, and no charge or MDR shall be imposed on customers as well as merchants.
Gross NPAs of Banks
Coming to PSBs, the government said that the gross NPAs of state-run banks declined from Rs 8.96 lakh crore in March 2018 to Rs 7.27 lakh crore in September 2019 and their provision coverage ratio rising to their highest level in seven years, and banks returning to profitability, with as many as 13 banks reporting profits in H1FY20.
With the Essar Steel resolution decision, banks have recovered Rs 38,896 crore, in addition to Rs 4.53 lakh crore recovered in the last four and half years, the government said.
The finance minister launched eBककरय, a common e-auction platform that will enable online auction by banks of attached assets transparently and cleanly for the improved realisation of value. As of now, PSBs have attached assets worth over Rs. 2.3 lakh crore over the last three financial years.
The platform is equipped with property search features and navigational links to all PSB e-auction sites, provides single-window access to information on properties up for e-auction as well as a facility for comparison of similar properties, and also contains photographs and videos of uploaded properties. As on 27.12.2019, a total of 35,000 properties had been uploaded on the platform by PSBs.
Further to strengthen banks, the government has approved additional infusion of Rs 8,855 crore (Rs 4,360 crore to Indian Overseas Bank, Rs 2,153 crore to Allahabad Bank, Rs 2,142 crore to UCO Bank and Rs 200 crore to Andhra Bank).
No Witch-Hunt of Bankers
To allay fears of bankers on witch-hunt by central agencies, CBI notices will carry a registration number to avoid any scope for unauthorised communication and consequent harassment, the agency shall be sensitive to the distinction between genuine commercial failures and culpability, PSBs can report instances of fraud through e-filing of FIRs on a designated email address of CBI and the agency would create a dedicated phone number on which any person could give information regarding any undue harassment by the investigative machinery.
PSBs have sanctioned over 11.68 lakh repo-linked loans to retail borrowers for home/vehicle/education/personal loans and to micro and small enterprises, amounting to Rs 1.32 lakh crore. Also, a total of 5,38,440 MSME loan accounts have been restructured, out of which 1,65,104 accounts have been restructured since October 2019.