were presented to banks, of over Rs 250 crore each, totalling 4.65 lakh crore, of which 137 projects have either been cleared or are in the advanced stages of clearance.
“This means things are not as gloomy as it is painted sometimes. There are new proposals and they are being cleared. They may still face some obstacles here and there and one or two loose ends may have to be tied up. Things are moving thanks to the Cabinet Committee on Investments and the Project Monitoring Group. Investors are encouraged to submit new proposals to banks for loans,” the minister said.
Chidambaram expressed concern over the growing non-performing assets (NPAs) and defaults by big borrowers with loans over Rs 1 crore and said the government was monitoring the top 30 NPA accounts in each PSB zone-wise. The minister said he has asked the lenders to constitute a separate vertical headed by an officer of the rank of general manager to look at recovering money from written-off accounts. He said, however, that NPAs are only a function of the slowdown in the economy, adding that once growth picks up the situation would improve. As of June, the gross NPA of PSBs was 3.89%, while that of the State Bank group was 5.5%.
The other encouraging sign was the growth in housing loans. In the second quarter, housing loans grew by 61% year-on-year, compared with a 42% growth in the first half.
Separately, referring to a proposal that the government should permit import of coins for ‘shagun’ (auspicious gift) purposes, the minister ruled out removing the ban on import of gold coins and medallions in the near future and asked banks to strictly comply with these norms.