Chandigarh, Feb 16: Non-performing assets (NPA) of banks in Punjab on account of crop loans have piled up to Rs 6,611 crore by the end of 2017. That includes Rs 277 crore in the October-December quarter alone as compared to the same quarter of 2016. This was shared by the state-level bankers’ committee on Thursday.
The NPA recorded in 2017 was thus 7.93% of the total outstanding loans of Rs 83,316 crore. Of the 31 lakh crop loan accounts, 1.39 lakh turned NPA. Major portion of the NPA was attributed to the debt waiver for agriculture sector announced by the state government, which promised to cover 10.5 lakh small and marginal farmers by waiving up to Rs 2 lakh each with total expenditure of Rs 9,500 crore.
Due to delay in giving the relief, farmers have stopped paying back to banks. The committee in its annual report brought on record that “farmers other than small and marginal stopped paying back, so the state government should publicise the debt waiver policy”.
The committee releasing yearly figures, speaking on the role of cooperative sector loans, said the advances were short by 45%. Against the target of Rs 1,271 crore to the agriculture sector, the cooperative sector banks could give advances of Rs 696 crore, that is, 55% of the target.
Contrary to what the committee says, cooperative sector officials, particularly in the Punjab State Cooperative Bank, say that public sector banks set high targets for themselves and give advances more than the paying back capacity of the farmers. The Punjab government last year flagged the issue before the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) too.
The state government has so far waived Rs 169 of 46,000 marginal farmers who owe the cooperative sector banks; and has announced that Rs 580 crore more would be given soon. The banks’ consortium has asked the member banks to submit details of farmers’ accounts eligible for debt relief. The report was sought by February 10, but a number of banks have not supplied the details.
In other decisions, the committee pointed out that 53 villages with population of more than 5,000 don’t have an operational bank and new branches here will be opened by the end of the current financial year.
News Source: www.hindustantimes.com