During Sitaram Yechury’s speech in the Rajya Sabha yesterday, the Finance Minister intervened on the issue of the “write offs” of non-performing assets and FCRA.

Sitaram Yechury, rebutting the misleading claims made by Finance Minister regarding the two issues has given the following clarification today.


During my speech on the demonetisation issue in the Rajya Sabha today, when I raised the issue of Rs 1,12,078 crore of unpaid loans being written off in FY 2014-15 and FY 2015-16, the finance minister intervened to say that these “write offs” are merely an accounting entry. He went on to add that this means that the bad loan is taken off the books of a bank, but the banks will still attempt recovery of this money. This gives an incomplete picture of the real situation.

What does taken off the books mean? it means that the banks do not attempt to recover this because it does not effect their balance sheets any longer.

The minister also added that a write-off means that the loan from a performing asset, it becomes a non performing asset. This is incorrect as it is non-performing asset which is written off; the rules for conversion of a performing asset to a non-performing asset are clearly stated by the RBI in its master circular (particularly, sections 3.5, 5.9 and 5.10 of Master Circular on “Prudential Norms on Income Recognition, Asset Classification and Provisioning – Pertaining to Advances”). The minister may like to check his facts on this count.

Getting back to the issue of write off, in a letter to The Indian Express newspaper, the RBI itself had clarified that the total write-offs includes – I repeat, only includes — a large portion of technically written-off accounts where the recovery efforts continue as usual. But as RBI’s former deputy governor KC Chakrabarty has noted, after a technical write-off, when the bad loan is no longer on the books, there is no incentive for banks to pursue recovery.

 As far as tall claims of this government for recoveries of written off loans go, the facts speak for themselves. The conviction rate of wilful defaulters under this government was 1.14% in 2015-16, even lower than 1.45% in 2014-15. So much for the finance minister’s talk of written-off loans being recovered from willful defaulters by his government.

The finance minister may like to check his facts and tell the country how much of the “written off” loans has his government recovered. If not, written off loans are not just technical, it is real money of the people being given by the government to crony corporates.

If the government is really serious in recovering these loans why are they not confiscating the properties and returning these loans that are people’s savings to the nationalized banks?