While in absolute terms public sector banks (PSBs) definitely lent higher amounts, in percentage increase terms private banks have been ahead in the race. And thats the case even in core sectors like agriculture, transport operation and personal loans.
In lending to the agriculture sector, private banks showed a close to 30 per cent increase as compared to the PSBs 16.53 per cent for the same period. The trend carries on into 2004.
However, in absolute terms, private banks still have a long way to go to be able to catch up with PSBs. While the latter gave a total credit of Rs 59,992 crore to agriculture in 2003, private banks gave loans totalling only Rs 4,624 crore to the farm segment.
In the personal loan segment, private banks raised their credit by 62.1 per cent in 2003 over 2002. PSBs increased their credit in this segment only by 35.9 per cent. Similarly, in the industry sector, private banks increased their lending by 25.29 per cent, while PSBs increased it by only 12.35 per cent in the same period.
Putting these figures in perspective, Icra analyst Vineet Nigam said that growth has been greater in private banks as the base is still very low for them. In absolute terms, public sector banks are still lending more than private sector banks. Scope for the private sector banks is also therefore greater, he said.
Arun Kaul, general manager, Punjab National Bank, too points out that the PSBs enjoy 80 per cent of the total market in India. Since private banks, has such a small base, even a little increase would seem subsantially high, Mr Kaul said.