Lok Sabha passes Appropriations Bill, Arun Jaitley assures solving banks stress

New Delhi, March 15: Lok Sabha on Monday passed the Appropriation Bill, completing the first phase of the budgetary exercise for 2016-17, with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley saying that his government will find a lasting solution to banks’ financial stress by addressing issues at the core of the problem – over-borrowing by long-troubled sectors like steel, sugar, power and highways.

In his reply in the Lok Sabha to the debate on the Union Budget 2016-17, he said banks stress on account of fraud, where defaulters have wilfully declined to repay loans, will be dealt with legally.

“But there are also some other issues due to which non-performing assets (NPAs) have added up in the banking system,” he said, adding that some genuine economic reasons for the delays in repayments to banks were required to be addressed.

In steel, he said, it was dumping by China. In sugar, it was low global prices, while in power, it was indiscriminate moves by some states to sell electricity below cost, forcing distribution companies to resort to borrowing. In highways, it was poor policy implementation that had crippled the sector, Jaitley said.

“But all these are being tackled with appropriate policy action,” he said.

“There is no point in pushing dirt under the carpet and saying the room is clean,” he added.

Jaitley listed the steps taken by his government such as the anti-dumping duty and high minimum import price of steel, high customs duty on sugar and the Uday discoms’ debt restructure package for power utilities.

The NPAs of public sector banks (PSBs) have increased by close to Rs.1 lakh crore in the first nine months of the current fiscal, parliament was told last week.

Jaitley also rejected demands for rollback of 1 percent excise duty on jewellery saying it was in preparation for unveiling of the Goods and Services Tax, which hopefully will “come soon”. (IANS)

Appropriation BillArun JaitleyFinancial stressLok SabhaUnion Budget 2016-17