New Delhi, 10 March 2018: All out efforts must be made by banks, regulators, government and India Inc to limit the collateral damage from the alleged fraud in PNB, said the ASSOCHM today, cautioning over-reaction by the banks and the investigative agencies would hurt essential credit disbursement to the trade and industry and tamper the growth expectations.

“Following unearthing of the alleged scams and the media headlines, the banks are becoming cautious while there is a perceived public pressure on the regulators to act tough.  Given the scale of the problem, the level of noise may be justified, but it could cause a huge loss of confidence. So, it is time to show immense restraint and use the adverse situation as an opportunity to fix the systemic issues,” said ASSOCHM Secretary General Mr D S Rawat.

The chamber said, “We can learn a lot from the U S experience of handling the global financial crisis of 2007-08. The U S authorities worked at the root of their banking system and have put in place some robust risk mitigation and prudent system”.

In the present Indian situation while the debate on reducing government stake to below 50 per cent should be encouraged, some immediate steps should be taken to  do the capacity building in the PSU banks , enabling them to prevent, detect and act on frauds. Given the technology disruption taking place and India’s ambitions to enhance digital footprints, it is all the more important to put in place robust systems which are well beyond compromise, the ASSOCHAM said.

It said given the nature of fast changes, the PSU banks with full support from the government and the RBI, need to develop expertise in specific business verticals. “Lending to infrastructure projects is not the same as lending for retail trade, transportation or operating in the bond market. A new approach is needed for technological and human resource upgrades,” Mr Rawat said.

A lot more lateral recruitment would be needed at the middle and senior levels, in different verticals. Take for instance agriculture, a different skill sets are needed for lending to farmers and then giving them a feeling of stakeholders. Times are changing. Indian banks must also change.

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