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Bankers differ on provisioning norms

The mandatory 70% provisioning coverage expected to be implemented by banks has created quite a stir in the banking community

The major bone of contention emerging among Indian banks is the provisioning requirement mandated by the country’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its last monetary policy review. RBI had advised banks to maintain a loan loss provisioning ratio of at least 70% by September 2010. While most see this demand as too harsh and steep, there are some who welcome the move as a step in the right direction.

The difference in opinion was quite apparent at Monday’s Banking Conclave held by State Bank of India (SBI) and Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) in Mumbai. The issue was discussed at length by luminaries of the financial world. SBI chairman OP Bhatt pointed out some of his reservations against the new norm. He said that although RBI was rightly concerned about the health of the Indian banking system, the reasoning behind arriving at the number (70%) was a bit odd.
“Earlier the provisioning was fixed separately for the category of asset being provided for. However, the new requirement mandates banks to provide 70% across the total non-performing loans. If this number had come from similar logic, it would have been better. I feel a lot more understanding is required in this area. Some banks would definitely find it challenging to meet this criterion and hence, would need more time. The provisioning requirement should be based on some kind of formula,” he said.

However, Rana Kapoor, chief executive of Yes Bank, had a different perspective. “In a heightened risk environment since the last couple of years, which has still not been entirely mitigated, the risks in the system are still running high. I feel this is a proactive measure by RBI to send a signal. The timeframe could be somewhat flexible, but I think it is very important that the asset quality continues to be ranked on priority. Banks should administer proactive and dynamic provisioning policies, in advance of assets turning non-performing,” he said.

Mr Kapoor’s emphasis on asset quality highlighted Mr Bhatt’s own remarks on the current level of NPAs in the banking system. Mr Bhatt, while mentioning the concerns facing the industry, had pointed out that NPAs were running high and that they would continue to rise at least for the next couple of quarters.

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    10 years ago

    All points of views have some merit. In all this the moral hazard ignored is that the borrowers are getting away by reneging on debts - either the Govt bails them out periodically as in the case of loan waivers or the legal process of recovery of debt is so cumbersome and time consuming, that the banks are forced to go in for compromises, often with habitual defaulters/the influential, and adjust the unrecovered portion against the provisions.They must be happy with higher provisions the banks are asked to make. In fact asset recovery agencies have sprung up and have proved to be profitable. It is time for the RBI to ask banks to be relentless in pursuit of bad debts and for the Govt to prescibe by law that the courts and DRTs must hear all suit filed cases by banks on a day to day basis for expeditious settlement.The society at large and the performing borrowers are paying a heavy price for the non-chalance of defaulting borrowers.

    Unsolved attacks on activists have a long history

    Activists in Mumbai were outraged over the recent attack on Nayana Kathpalia, convenor of the NGO Citispace. However, several similar attacks on activists in the past still await police action

    Is shady business trying to stifle the voice of civil society activists? Last week, there was outrage among activists in Mumbai at the attempt to murder Nayana Kathpalia, convener of Citispace, a non-governmental organisation (NGO).

    Citispace is opposing the Slum Rehabilitation Authority’s (SRA) redevelopment scheme. Underworld links of some builders connected with the redevelopment process are fairly well known in realty circles.

    Ms Kathpalia had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Bombay High Court against slum rehabilitation being allowed under the SRA scheme in the city’s open and public spaces. On Friday last week, two assailants entered Ms Kathpalia’s residence located at Churchgate in the early hours and fired a round from a country made revolver. However, no one was hurt in the firing.

    The recent attack on Ms Kathpalia is not an isolated case. In a letter written to top police officials in the city, Sumaira Abdulali, who heads the Awaaz Foundation, an anti-noise organisation, has pointed out various similar cases in the past, which are still unsolved.

    Ms Abdulali points out that attack on activists seem to be part of a trend of intimidation and the police have not followed up on past attacks. Ms Abdulali herself had been attacked in the past when she stood up against the sand-quarrying mafia that is depleting various beaches. She was attacked by illegal sand miners at Kihim beach near Alibaug in May 2004.

    The letter lists out five such unsolved attacks in the past where the activists have identified the attackers, but no adequate police action so far has been taken.

    Citispace activist HS D’Lima was assaulted in March 2005. The police have failed to nab the attacker, despite him being indentified by the activist. The attack on Mr Lima is not an isolated case of police inaction. In a similar case, the city police failed to provide adequate protection to AGNI (Action for Good Governance and Networking in India) activist James John who was attacked in March 2006. The status of the case is a first information report (FIR), which was reportedly filed after several hours. In both these cases, the city police failed to take prompt action even after a number of written complaints mentioning constant threats to the life of activists.

    Another activist Anandini Thakoor from an NGO named H-WEST Citizens Federation was mobbed three times in July 2005. Again in January 2009, Ms Thakoor and Aftab Siddique were mobbed by political party workers. Both the activists were protesting against illegal political hoardings. While the police refused to file an FIR against the party workers, an FIR was filed against Ms Thakoor. The case against Ms Thakoor is still pending.

    In a recent case, Navin Pandya, Coordinator for Malad (north) of AGNI and Janhit Manch, was reportedly attacked by a member of the Samajwadi Party in September 2009. Mr Pandya was protesting against an illegal garage of the alleged attacker. Though an FIR was filed by the police, no further action has since been taken.

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    Shadi Katyal

    10 years ago

    It is very unfortunate that these NGO instead of helping the nation have started abusing the freedom given to them.
    We have too many such do gooders who in name of poor people exploit the nation and poor become their constituency not recognizing that such leaders are nothing but power hungry and want their name in papers..
    India development has suffered due to such Naka bundi,Dharnas and what not.
    One can recall Narbad Bacho,NANO project and many such other projects which are being delayed.
    NGO should help and not become an obstacle

    Dr Reddy's, AstraZeneca may settle patent case out of court

    Dr Reddy's Lab's long-standing patent dispute with Europe's AstraZeneca over a drug to treat heartburn may be resolved out of court following a similar settlement between the European drug maker and Israel's Teva

    Indian pharmaceutical company Dr Reddy's Laboratories Ltd's long-standing patent dispute with Europe's AstraZeneca over a drug to treat heartburn may be resolved out of court following a similar settlement between the European drug maker and Israel's Teva, feel market watchers.

    Dr Reddy's and AstraZeneca are at loggerheads over alleged infringement of the latter's heartburn drug Nexium and experts feel the settlement with Teva Pharmaceuticals would help the Indian pharma company's case.

    AstraZeneca has filed a lawsuit against Dr Reddy's alleging that the Indian company's generic version of a heartburn drug infringes on its $4 billion drug, Nexium.

    Angel Broking’s vice president and research specialist (pharmaceuticals), Sarabjit Kour Nangra said that there is a possibility of settlement between AstraZeneca and Dr Reddy's. "Similar settlement out of court could be possible between the two companies," Mr Nangra told PTI.

    According to Satish Kanteti, joint managing director, Zen Securities, the Indian pharma company has been making deals with multinational companies (MNCs) for the past two years and may go for a settlement with AstraZeneca also.

    "Even AstraZeneca may prefer for a settlement considering the size of the market of Nexium. They may not risk the $4-billion Nexium market," Mr Kanteti said.

    He, however, said that the settlement depends on how strong Dr Reddy's claim is and pointed out that Teva is more aggressive than Dr Reddy's in terms of marketing.

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