Management of Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) in the Urban Cooperative by veb95503


									                               RESERVE BANK OF INDIA
                          COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURAL BANKING
                            UNIVERSITY ROAD, PUNE 411 016

                        Management of Non-Performing Assets (NPAs)
                          in the Urban Cooperative Banks (UCBs)

1. Introduction

1.1 RBI introduced, in 1992-93, the prudential norms for income recognition, asset
classification & provisioning – IRAC norms in short – in respect of the loan portfolio
of the UCBs. The objective, inter-alia, was to bring out the true picture of a bank’s
loan portfolio. The fallout of this momentous regulatory measure for the management
of the UCBs was to divert its focus to profitability, which till then used to be a low
priority area for it. Asset quality assumed greater importance for the UCBs when RBI
introduced the Basel norms for Capita Adequacy from year-ended March 31, 2002 in
the aftermath of serious financial problems in the sector. Maintenance of high quality
credit portfolio continues to be a major challenge for the UCBs, especially with RBI
gradually moving towards convergence with more stringent global norms for impaired
1.2 The quality of a bank’s loan portfolio can impact its profitability, capital and
liquidity. Asset quality problems are at the root of other financial problems for banks,
leading to reduced net interest income and higher provisioning costs. If loan losses
exceed the Bad and Doubtful Debt Reserve, capital strength is reduced. Reduced
income means less cash, which can potentially strain liquidity. Market knowledge that
the bank is having asset quality problems and associated financial conditions may
cause outflow of deposits. Thus, the performance of a bank is inextricably linked with
its asset quality. Managing                                                    the loan portfolio to minimise
bad loans is, therefore, fundamentally important for a financial institution in today’s
extremely competitive and market driven business environment. This is all the more
important for the UCBs, which are at a disadvantage vis-à-vis the commercial banks
in terms of professionalised management, skill levels, technology adoption and
effective risk management systems and procedures.
1.3 Management of NPAs begins with the consciousness of a good portfolio, which
warrants a better understanding of risks in lending. The Board has to decide a strategy

Sr.No.    / UCB Channel / Mgt. of NPAs of UCBs / Aug. 2007 / Eng. / 5 pgs / Version 1

keeping in view the regulatory norms, the business environment, its market share, the
risk profile, the available resources etc. The strategy should be reflected in Board
approved policies and procedures to monitor implementation. The essential
components of sound NPA management are i) quick identification of NPAs, ii) their
containment at a minimum level and iii) ensuring minimum impact of NPAs on the
financials. A two-pronged strategy of preventing slippage of standard assets in to
NPA category and reducing NPAs through cash recovery, up gradation, compromise,
legal means etc., is called for.

2. Preventing NPAs
2.1 At the pre-disbursement stage, appraisal techniques of bank need to be sharpened.
All technical, economic, commercial, organizational and financial aspects of the
project need to be assessed realistically. Bankers should satisfy themselves that the
project is technically feasible with reference to technical know how, scale of
production etc. The project should be commercially feasible in that all background
linkages by way of availability of raw materials at competitive rates and that all
forward linkages by way of assured market are available. It should be ensured
assumptions on which the project report is based are realistic. Some projects are born
sick because of unrealistic planning, inadequate appraisal and faulty implementation.
As the initiative to sanction or reject the project proposal lies with the banker, he can
exercise his judgment judiciously. The banker should at the pre-sanction stage not
only appraise the project but also the promoter – his character and his capacity. It is
said that it is more prudent to sanction a 'B' class project with an 'A' class entrepreneur
than vice-versa. He has to ensure that the borrower complies with all the terms of
sanction before disbursement.
2.2 A major cause for NPA is fixation of unrealistic repayment schedule. Repayment
schedule may be fixed taking into account gestation or moratorium period, harvesting
season, income generation, surplus available etc. If the repayment schedule is
defective both with reference to quantum of instalment and period of recovery, assets
have a tendency to become NPA.
2.3 At the post-disbursement stage, bankers should ensure that the advance does not
become and NPA by proper follow-up and supervision to ensure both assets creation
and asset utilisation. Bankers can do either off-site surveillance or on site inspection
to detect whether the unit / project is likely to become NPA. Instead of waiting for the

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mandatory period before classifying an asset as NPA, the banker should look for early
warning signals of NPA.
2.4 The following are the sources from which the banker can detect signals, which
need quick remedial action:
     a) Scrutiny of accounts and ledger cards – During a scrutiny of these, banker can
         be on alert if there is persistent regularity in the account, or if there is any
         default in payment of interest and instalment or when there is a downward
         trend in credit summations and frequent return of cheques or bills,
     b) Scrutiny of statements – If the scrutiny of the statements submitted by the
         borrower reveal a sharp decline in production and sales, rising level of
         inventories, diversion of funds, the banker should realise that all is not well
         with the unit.
     c) External sources – The banker may know the state of the unit through external
         sources. Recession in the industry, unsatisfactory market reports, unfavourable
         changes in government policy and complaints from suppliers of raw material,
         may indicate that the unit is not working as per schedule.
     d) Computerisation of loan monitoring – In computerised branches, it is possible
         to computerise the loan monitoring system so that accounts, which show signs
         of sickness or weakness can be monitored more closely than other accounts.

2.5 Personal visit and face-to-face discussion – By inspecting the unit the banker is
able to see for himself where the problem lies - either production bottlenecks or
income leakage or whether it is a case of willful default. During discussion with the
borrower, the banker may come to know details relating to breakdown in plant and
machinery, labour strike, change in management, death of a key person, reconstitution
of the firm, dispute among the partners etc. All these factors have a bearing on the
functioning of the unit and on its financial status.
2.6 ‘Special Mention’ category of accounts – Based on warning signals obtained
through both off-site and on-site monitoring, banks may classify accounts with
irregularities persisting for more than 30 days under ‘Special Mention’ or ‘Potential
NPA’ category. This will help the bank to initiate proactive remedial measures for
early regularisation. The measures include timely release of additional funds to
borrowers with temporary liquidity problems and restructuring of accounts of sincere
and honest borrowers after considering cases on merit.

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2.7 On going classification – Although classification of assets is a yearly exercise,
banks would do well to have a system of on going classification of assets and
quarterly provisioning. This helps in assessing provisioning requirements well in
advance. All doubts regarding classification should be settled internally and a system
of fixing accountability for failure to comply with the regulatory guidelines should be
2.8 Strategy for reducing provision – The extent of provision for doubtful asset is with
reference to secured and unsecured portion. Cent percent provision needs to be made
for the unsecured portion. If banks can ensure that the loan outstanding is fully
secured by realisable security, the quantum of provision to be made would be less. It
takes one year for a sub standard asset to slip into doubtful category. Therefore, as
soon as an account is classified as substandard, the banker must keep strict vigil over
the security during the next one year because in the event of the account being
classified as doubtful, the lack of security would be too costly for the bank.

3. Reducing NPAs
3.1 Cash recovery – Banks, instead of organising a recovery drive based on overdues,
must short list those accounts, the recovery of which would provide impetus to the
system in reducing the pressure on profitability by reduced provisioning burden.
Vigorous efforts need to be made for recovery of critical amount (overdue interest and
instalment) that can save an account from NPA classification:
     a) In case of a term loan, the banker gets 90 days after the date of default to take
         appropriate action and to persuade the borrower to pay interest or instalment
         whichever is due.
     b) In case of a cash credit account, the banker gets 90 days for ensuring that the
         irregularity in the account is rectified.
     c) In case of direct agricultural loans, the account is classified NPA only after
         two crop seasons (from sowing to harvesting) from the due date in case of
         short duration loans and one crop season from the due date in case of long
         duration loans.
3.2 Up gradation of assets – Once accounts become NPA, then bankers should take
steps to up grade them by recovering the entire overdues. Close follow-up will
generally ensure success.

Sr.No.   / UCB Channel / Mgt. of NPAs of UCBs / Aug. 2007 / Eng. / 5 pgs / Version 1

3.3 Compromise settlements – Wherever feasible, in case of chronic NPAs, banks can
consider entering into compromise settlements with the borrowers.
3.4 Recovery through legal recourse – Since provision amount progressively increases
with increase in time, it is necessary to take steps to recover dues either through
persuasion or by legal recourse. A strategy of fixing a dead line for recovery may
force the bank to either recover or shed the asset off the balance sheet. Banks may file
suits promptly against wilful defaulters. Banks can take recourse under either a civil
suit or the Special Recovery Acts passed by various states or the Securitisation and
Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest
(SARFAESI) Act, 2002. The bank should vigorously follow up the legal cases.
6. Conclusion
6.1 Management of NPA is need of the hour. To be effective, NPA management has
to be an exercise pervading the entire bank from the Board down the last level. Time
is of prime essence in NPA management. The course open to the banker is to ensure
that an asset does not become NPA. If it does, he should take steps for early recovery
failing which the profitability of the bank will be eroded. That can trigger other
problems to undermine the bank’s financial condition.

Revised by Shri R. R. Borbora, Member of Faculty, CAB

Sr.No.   / UCB Channel / Mgt. of NPAs of UCBs / Aug. 2007 / Eng. / 5 pgs / Version 1

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