Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has asked the country's largest lender State Bank of India (SBI) to take immediate steps to bring down its bad assets.
He directed the bank to continue providing credit after due diligence to sectors that require it, as also individuals.The gross non-performing assets (NPAs) of SBI for the year-ending March, 2011 stood at Rs 23,074 crore - which is 32% of the total gross NPA levels of of all state-owned banks, according to official data.
An official who was present in the board meeting chaired by Mukherjee last week said the finance minister underlined the need to maintain a healthy balance between credit and deposits, and also recoveries, to tide over the global financial situation, which would slow down India's growth rate.
"He raised concerns over the rising level of NPA and has asked the bank to stake steps to bring it down but he also added that credit must be made available to all key sectors and the growth story must not be dampened," the official said.
The gross NPA of public sector banks for the year ended March, 2011 stood at Rs 71,047 crore. Reserve Bank of India has also asked banks to be cautious as a higher-than-expected rate hike could have an adverse impact on banks' asset quality.