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TRIBUNE EDIT -‘Phone-a-loan’ scam Disclose their identities and act against them

September 04, 2018 05:34 AM


‘Phone-a-loan’ scam
Disclose their identities and act against them
PM Modi recently accused the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government of planting landmines in the economy by its indiscriminate lending. He termed it a ‘phone-a-loan’ scam where ‘money was lent by banks to select rich businessmen close to a particular family’ and vowed to recover every bad penny. This is a statement with major implications for it comes from an authority with complete access to classified information. The PM’s public comments cannot be dismissed as another political rhetoric but it fell short on details about culprits who benefited from this ‘phone-a-loan’ scam. The need to publicly disclose the list is more urgent because of the war of words that has broken out.

The statement made by Congress leader P Chidambaram needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, but cannot be dismissed outright since it comes from a person who had headed the home and finance ministries in the previous regime. His tweet — ‘Let’s assume that PM is right when he says that loans given under UPA have turned bad. How many of those loans were renewed or rolled over (that is ‘evergreened’) under NDA?’ The question assumes significance because the RBI’s Financial Stability Report (FSR) does not differentiate between bad loans on the basis of regimes. It said the situation was worsening and the gross NPA ratio of banks was expected to increase from 11.6 per cent in March this year to 12.2 per cent by the end of the current fiscal. It is alarming that bad loans are constantly rising even after the hidden NPAs of bygone era were unearthed. This needs to be probed.

The situation now is that while the big fish have absconded or are below the radar, micro and small entrepreneurs are being hauled by banks. In fact, the government needs to protect such small ventures that became victims of two back-to-back disruptions — demonetisation and hasty implementation of GST. The corporates need to be fixed in quick time while the smaller industries need a fix of fiscal oxygen

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