PC recalls Indian Bank's tough times

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Chennai, July 9 (UNI) Admiring the robust finances of the Indian Bank, Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram today recounted the tough times the institution had to face ten years ago when he had to virtually assure DMK President and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi that his party's funds parked with the bank were absolutely safe.

Recalling an interesting anecdote during a function organised by the Indian Bank here this morning, Mr Chidambaram said he told Mr Karunanidhi ''if we don't trust the bank, who will? The bank will rise from its current situation.'' This was due to a fear among the depositors that the bank might collapse since it was on a very weak financial wicket then.

Today, the picture had undergone a sea change. In ten years, the bank's deposit base grew four times from Rs 15,000 crore to Rs 61,000 crore while its advances jumped 5.5 times to Rs 40,000 crore from Rs 7,765 crore.

From a net loss of Rs 302 crore, the bank reported a net profit of over Rs 1,000 crore today and its non performing assets (NPAs) came down from a high of 26 per cent to 0.24 per cent.

The interest income alone zoomed from Rs 111 crore in 1997-98 to Rs 1009 crore now. The business per employee was Rs 4.5 crore up from Rs 88 lakh then.

The good performance was a result of the government's clear policy that public sector banks should work on commercial basis and not as charitable institutions, he added.

UNI GM PDT RN1506

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