By Ashok Kumar, Joint Secretary, Kamgar Ekta Committee
The country’s biggest bank, the State Bank of India (SBI) has written off bad loans of over Rs.145,248 crore of big defaulters, over the past nine years, from FY13-14 up to FY21-22. However, it refuses to reveal the names of borrowers who owe Rs. 100 crore or more by claiming that “The Bank is under statutory and regulatory obligations to maintain confidentiality of customer data, hence information sought cannot be disclosed.”
The bank has no problem with confidentiality when it comes to small borrowers. All lenders regularly publish recovery advertisements in the newspapers with personal details and photos of smaller borrowers who have defaulted.
None of the banks agree to reveal the name of big defaulters. The Reserve Bank of India also refused to disclose the names under the garb of customer confidentiality.
It is well known that most of the big defaulters are some of the big corporate houses of the country. As per the data given by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in 2019, India’s top 30 defaulters accounted for a third of the gross non-performing assets (NPAs) of the banking sector. As of March 31, India’s scheduled commercial banks had gross NPAs worth Rs 9.49 lakh crore on 31 March 2019. According to data furnished by the RBI, the top 30 NPA borrowers accounted for Rs 2.86 lakh crore.
Once loans are written off, these big defaulters have no pressure to return any money even if they can as is evident from the data of recovery of written off loans of SBI.
It’s these 30 big corporate groups who are being protected by banks and the government. No criminal cases are filed against them for looting public money.
Once again, we can see that the present system works for the benefit of the biggest corporates and capitalists who own them. There are one set of rules for them who are the real rulers of the country and another set for workers and peasants who are the real wealth creators of the country.
We have seen political parties in power change at the Center and in states but policies do not. Privatisation of public sector enterprises has been pursued by every central government since 1991 and by many state governments too.
Big capitalists who have looted the banks now want them to be privatized so that they get access to the huge savings of the people for further enriching themselves.
While we continue to build our unity and fight against their plans, we must also work towards reorienting the economy so that it works for the benefit of the people. This will be possible when workers, peasants and other toilers become the rulers of the country.