Amid greater application of the new insolvency law to resolve cases of large non-performing accounts (NPAs) with banks, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI) is in the process of finalising technical standards for setting up a massive information utility (IU) that will have all the relevant data on lending and credit flow in the country, official sources told FE. The IU is a key pillar of the insolvency and bankruptcy ecosystem–the other three being the adjudicating authority (National Company Law Tribunal and Debt Recovery Tribunal), the IBBI and insolvency professionals. “Regulations for the information utility have been worked out. An IT company will be roped in to provide necessary software and other technological back-up. Data will be collected from all debtors and all creditors, both from the formal banking system and outside it,” a senior government official said. An IU will be designed to store “financial information that helps to establish defaults as well as verify claims expeditiously” and thereby facilitate completion of transactions under the IBC in a time bound manner.
Last month, the RBI recommended 12 cases, accounting for a quarter of the total NPAs, for resolution under the IBC. According to the Information Utilities Regulations, a public company with a minimum net worth of `50 crore is eligible to be an IU. Usually, a person should not hold more than a 10% of an IU’s paid-up equity share capital, while certain specified persons may hold up to 25% of paid-up equity share capital. However, to start with, a person may hold up to 51% of paid-up equity share capital of an IU, but that has to be reduced to 10% or 25%, as the case may be, before the expiry of three years from registration, according to the regulations stipulated by the IBBI.
The technical standards for the IU provide for matters relating to authentication and verification of information to be stored with the utility. Each registered user and information submitted to the IU will have a unique identifier. NPAs touched `7.11 lakh crore as of April, with most concentrated in public-sector banks, showed Capitaline data. The IBC is aimed at the turnaround of stressed assets or, in the case of liquidation, their quick monetisation. Secured creditors, including banks, are placed third in the preference order in case of any liquidation to receive the proceeds, after meeting the cost of resolution and workers’ dues.
The IBC is barely one-year-old and the eco-system around it will evolve only with time, after more and more number of cases is resolved under this law, said another official. “That doesn’t mean the law shouldn’t be applied to resolve cases of defaults until a fool-proof system emerges. An ideal system doesn’t emerge over night,” he said.
Already around 150 cases of defaults (mostly of small and medium enterprises) have been admitted by the NCLTs for resolution under the IBC, and more than 2,000 applications have been filed before various NCLTs to invoke the new law for resolution, according to the officials cited earlier. This is no mean feat, considering that the law came into existence only in 2016.
Some bankers had expressed apprehensions about the lack of a proper eco-system to settle cases under the IBC. Earlier this week, SBI chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya said the ecosystem required for the new law had not been fully created which was why cases were moving slowly.