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No liquidity crisis, demand to pick up: FM


New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday met private sector banks, NBFCs and micro-finance institutions and small finance banks where she said liquidity is no longer an issue while expressing the hope that demand is ready to be kicked off from the festival season onwards and that meeting private bankers was like a tonic for her.

After a two-hour meeting with private sector banks, non-banking finance companies and housing finance companies, Sitharaman said that none of the lenders complained about liquidity issues.

Addressing the media after the meeting, Sitharaman evinced hope that demand would return in most of the sectors.

"Liquidity is not a problem, they (the bankers, MFIs and NBFCs) are willing to lend in each and every one of the segment. The consensus is happening and once the 15-day period goes off (as per Hindu muthology calender 'pitru paksh' when no new purchases are made) and post which the festive season starts, from what has emerged today I feel, demand will get back and motivate our economy," Sitharaman said.

She hoped that in the coming months, things will look up and pep up every other sector, even if there were "one or two sectors where there could be some stress," she said.

"I have not heard liquidity as a problem from anybody here today. It has been a tonic-like meeting where I heard good news. Not one voice said there was a shortfall of demand. None of them voiced liquidity concerns", she said.

The FM said even if there was a problem in liquidity, it was in the wholesale financing, and not in the retail. V. Vaidyanathan, MD & CEO of IDFC First Bank, said: "We are growing small ticket loans at over 25% per year. Expect demand for large ticket loans to pick up as sentiment revives".

"We really feel this is the opportunity for us," said Uday Kotak, executive vice chairman and managing director of Kotak Mahindra Bank. "When the government is going out there, it is our 'dharma' to lend actively and prudently. We see no pressure from government on outreach programme, we want to lend as there's surplus liquidity", he said.

Amid an ongoing slowdown in the economy, the government has been coming up with several ideas and holding consultations to improve credit base of the lenders so that they can infuse liquidity in several sectors and boost consumption.

"Many of the MFIs and micro-finance units said that in deep-country areas, there is still demand and that they are extending loans. All of them clearly voiced a positive growth which is a good encouraging story," Sitharaman said, adding there is still good demand in rural sector.

Finance and Banking Secretary Rajeev Kumar said: "NBFCs raised issues on KYC while vehicle & housing NBFCs informed about robust demand".

On the auto sector, the FM said people not coming forward to buy commercial vehicles seems to be a prevalent problems. This had happened a few quarters ago, and is happening again. The lack of demand in passenger vehicles is sentimental while for the consumer vehicles segment, it was more of cyclical and a bank sees issues with regard to CVs getting sorted out in 1-2 quarters," Sitharaman said regarding the slump in the auto sector.

The meeting was held to get a response from private banks and financiers to join the government-owned banks in the outreach programme to push up credit disbursal from October onwards in 400 distrcits. Private banks & financial institutions said at the meeting that they will hit streets along with PSU banks in a credit outreach programme starting first week of October.

M.G. George Muthoot of The Muthoot Group, an NBFC, said 70% of their branches are in rural areas. "We should get some more liquidity from banks and expect more business during this festive season".

Bankers also told the Finance Minister that there were impressive possibilities in the services sector, which dominates the Indian economy.


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