Saturday, April 1News That Matters

Government not inclined to bear loan moratorium costs

The government is not inclined to bear the burden arising of the recent Supreme Court judgement on a blanket waiver of compound interest or interest on interest on all loan accounts which opted for moratorium during March-August 2020.

“They (banks) are well-poised to handle this and we don’t see any space for government relief,” said a senior government official.

The government has already compensated banks for the interest on interest they had lost on loans outstanding below Rs 2 crore. Analysts estimate the additional cost to reimburse banks for all loans at Rs 7,000-10,000 crore.

“There is no directive from the court ordering the government to bear this cost,” the government official said on the condition of anonymity.

Since there is no deadline to refund the compound interest they have charged, banks can stagger the payment depending on individual account period and other conditions. A final call would be taken shortly, he said.

In its ruling last week, the Supreme Court refused to extend the moratorium beyond August 31, 2020 but directed lenders to waive interest on interest for all borrowers.


According to estimates, the compounded interest for six months of moratorium across all lenders was around Rs 13,500-14,000 crore, and the relief already extended over loans up to Rs 2 crore had cost the exchequer about Rs 6,500 crore.

A Macquaire research report has put the additional amount at around Rs 10,000 crore.

On account of the stress due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Reserve Bank of India had announced the loan moratorium scheme to grant temporary relief to borrowers for payment of instalments due between March and August 2020.

The apex court in its judgement observed that the government and the central bank would decide on economic policy based on expert opinion. It further said a waiver of complete interest was not possible as it would affect depositors. The court ruled out an extension of the period of loan moratorium and any specific sector-wise relief.

According to Crisil Ratings, standstill on recognition of non-performing assets (NPAs) had tied the hand of lenders and consequently impacted the credit discipline of borrowers.

“Withdrawal of the same will enable lenders to enforce various legal measures and support their recovery efforts,” it said in a note.

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Banking/Finance-Industry-Economic Times

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