SHOMA PATNAIK | NT
Panaji: Bank business in the state that was badly affected during the pandemic has only made a partial recovery, according to bankers. Bankers on Thursday said the pickup in the local economy has started but with people still suffering financially from the pandemic, the recovery in business is about 50 per cent.
They said the expiry of the moratorium period on loans on August 31, 2020, has affected them adversely, as they have stressed assets on hand and are chasing borrowers for repayment. Some optimistic bankers said the recovery in business is around 80 per cent.
The local head of a private sector bank said recovery for banks began only in the third quarter of the financial year – from September 2020 onwards. “For six months during the current year, we had very little business. For banks to come back to pre-pandemic position, it will take a couple of quarters more,” he said.
Zonal manager, Bank of India, Goa, Sulabha Rathod pointed out that while the local economy has started reviving, it is not to the extent expected. “Hotels and taxis in the state were out of business for a long period. Their loans are under stress,” said Rathod.
“Hotels are in the unlock mode but tourism in the state is not yet back to normal. Only casinos are doing business. Our hotel clients have told us they are facing low occupancy,” said the BoI zonal manager. She said lending to the Goan real estate industry is also slow.
On the other hand, regional head of Union Bank of India, Goa, Prashant Sahoo said he expects to bounce back to pre-COVID levels by the end of March 31, 2021. “Our retail business has nearly come back to normal. The auto and home loan portfolio has grown over the previous year and from November 2020 we have started lending to the Goan MSME sector,” said Sahoo. He, however, said the local tourism industry is “not doing well” because of which the bank’s loan portfolio to tourism-related activities such as water sports operators has not increased.
Bank lending is a significant indicator of revival of the economy. According to State Level Bankers’ Committee data, bank deposits in the state during the second quarter of 2020-21 grew marginally from Rs 84,700 crore in June to Rs 85,235.6 crore on September 30, 2020.
The advances stood at Rs 27,609 crore as on September 2020, from Rs 24,040 crore in June, revealing a credit-deposit ratio of 32 per cent.
To mitigate the effects of the pandemic, the Union government had instituted several policy measures such as guaranteed emergency credit line (GECL) scheme to MSMEs and moratorium on loan repayment, among others. With the lockdown lifted, banks are presently functioning regularly.
Bank managers said the business they were doing prior to the COVID crisis has changed and they are in the “new normal situation.”