By Pervez Bari
New Delhi: Muhammad Shafi, national general secretary of Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), in a statement has deplored Reserve Bank of India, (RBI), writing off Rs.68,607 crore worth of bank loans taken by 30 major wilful defaulters including Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and Vijay Mallya.
The RBI that has been rejecting RTI applications seeking the list of defaulters, finally complied with the Supreme Court order to publish the list after four years, and has, replying to an RTI application, disclosed that loans amounting to Rs. 68,607 crores of 50 major wilful defaulters have been written off till September 2019. Though the then RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan had sent a list of the defaulters to PM Modi’s office (PMO) as back as 2015, the government was putting it into the freezer. Both the PMO and the Finance Minister have been dodging the queries about the defaulters. In a period of Indian economy undergoing severe decline, the impact of this write-off on the deteriorating economy will be massive, said Shafi. Modi is turning a blind eye to the miseries of the poor citizens who struggle for once-a-day-food, and helping the influential’s to plunder the wealth of the country with ease.
Shafi alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA Government created the biggest NPA ever – it was 2 lakh crore in 2014 and now it is over 14 lakh crore. Modi Govt. has no money to give to the states. The Central government still owes about Rs.30,000-34,000 crore to the states towards their share of Goods and Services Tax for December 2019 and January 2020, even while the state governments are in the forefront of the fight against the Corona virus and struggling with their finances. Till this crisis began, Rs.1.5 trillion of State money was in the Government of India securities. What is Modi Govt. doing with all the money that belongs to the states? Now Modi Govt. has availed about Rs.12, 000 crore ($1.5 billion) loan from Asian Development Bank, (ADB), for “immediate” response (after 3 months) to COVID-19, said Shafi.
He pointed out that another RTI response has shown that the government continued to collect money even after abolishing Krishi Kalyan Cess on July 1, 2017. The Centre collected over Rs 1,300 Crore under this cess. Collecting money in the name of tax that no longer exists raises serious questions about the government’s intentions. Interestingly, the government has not yet revealed how the money, which was collected in the name of a cess that does not exist, is being spent.
Shafi urged the central government to recover bad debts of these wilful defaulters instead of writing it off and to book them for financial misappropriation and cheating.