Do you see interest rates dropping further in the next few weeks?
Most banks have reduced their prime lending rates in the past one month. In fact, Bank of Baroda has reduced twice. Inflation is easing and the Reserve Bank of India is responding accordingly. Yes, overall, we expect rates to further come down. But cost of funds must also come down. Deposit rates will naturally have to drop as well.
Do you think an increased growth target for credit is achievable in this environment?
Our bank has registered a credit growth rate of 31 per cent. So I see no reason why there should be a problem in meeting the revised increased credit growth target.
What is the growth rate – deposit and credit— you are looking at for 2009-10?
We want to grow by 25 per cent. Our credit is expected to grow by 27 per cent while deposit by 23 per cent.
The going has been tough in 2008, especially for the financial sector. When do you think there will be a reversal of this trend?
Well, it is difficult to predict anything at this point. But I would say we may see a reversal in trend in the next seven to eight months.
What about non performing asset (NPA) levels in the Indian banking industry?
There is a lurking fear that non performing asset level is going to rise significantly. But as of now we haven’t seen anything like that and there’s no reason to panic. However, banks need to be proactive in managing assets. At BoB, we are already doing that. We are open for corporate debt restructuring and we have also held camps with those firms categorized under the small and medium enterprise sector to help them come out of their financial problems. At least 10 such camps have already been held. We will organize a few more.
Most PSU banks are hiring. What about BoB?
Yes, we have plans to hire 2,000 more employees, of whom 1,000 are officer-level. We will also visit campuses for recruitment.