New SBI chief allays fears on asset recast
The new State Bank of India (SBI) chairman Dinesh Kumar Khara on Wednesday indicated that the stress on its books because of Covid-19 was within “manageable limits” even as the lender has seen its business now improving to around 70-80 per cent of the pre-pandemic levels.
Khara, who took over the reins from Rajnish Kumar with effect from Wednesday, was speaking to reporters at a virtual press conference.
Observers say keeping bad loans under check and ramping up credit growth will be the key challenges before Khara, who has been appointed for a three-year tenure.
The banking system has seen anaemic loan growth with the latest Reserve Bank of India (RBI) data showing it rising only 5.3 per cent.
Here, the SBI chief pointed out that maintaining the quality of the loan book is one of his top priorities. He added that while the retail segment was doing well, corporate houses were not approaching the credit market or banks and were instead tapping the debt markets.
“We will have to re-adjust to the new realities and meet their (companies) requirement whether through credit or through the investment market... we have got the wherewithal,” he noted.
In August, the RBI had announced a one-time restructuring scheme for individuals and corporate borrowers affected by the pandemic. This will apply to only those accounts that existed in the banks’ books as on March 1, 2020. Following this, the country’s largest bank had launched a facility on its website to help retail customers check their eligibility for the one-time loan recast.
Khara said the bank was closely monitoring the cases applying for restructuring and the numbers were manageable. Further, when it comes to companies too, the bank has not witnessed any unusual numbers.
Responding to a query, he reiterated that SBI will come to the aid of any corporate house that is in distress because of the current Covid-19 situation within the framework prescribed by the RBI.
The new SBI chairman also disclosed that the bank will continue its annual hiring and his focus will be on skill development of employees.
On the bank’s capital raising plans, he said it would depend on the movement of credit growth and at present the bank is adequately capitalised.