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Congress targets government on handling of wilful defaulters

By Anuj Cariappa

New Delhi, June 25: The Congress targeted the government over the rising number of wilful defaulters in the country and said the regime change had not prevented the ruling BJP from "mishandling" the economy.

Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleged that the tremors of "mishandling" the economy in the last five years under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which had mastered the art of "disruptive economy policy measures", still continued to be felt as the number of wilful defaulters had gone up to 8,582 in 2018-19.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala

"Even though BJP has got a renewed mandate, India's economic woes under its regime continue to simmer. The tremors of the massive mishandling of the economy in the past five years under a government, which has mastered the art of disruptive economic policy measures, are still being felt," he said in a statement.

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The Congress leader said as the country was staring at a below-average monsoon and reeling under a severe water crisis, private investment in India was also taking a huge hit, thereby deepening the economic woes of our people.

"Wilful defaulters galore in ' suit boot ki sarkar'. The list of wilful defaulters has gone to 8,582 in 2018-19," he said.

Citing the figures of a credit information company, Surjewala claimed that the amount involved in wilful defaults had soared by Rs 1,21,700 crore from Rs 39,504 crore in March 2014, adding that India's largest public sector bank, the State Bank of India, alone accounted for Rs 39,471 crore of wilful defaults as of December 2018. "This alone is a surge of a whopping 308 pc," he said.

"Rollover risks for outstanding borrowings are rising as these companies could only raise less than one-seventh of the debts they incurred the previous year. Founders of most of these companies are selling businesses to tide over the crunch," he said.

Surjewala also said that even the cost of funding for non-bank lenders had gone up by 50 basis points and investors were scrutinising Indian banks that had a loan exposure to companies with stressed debt.

"Not only is Rs 1 trillion (US $14.4 Billion) of 11 firms wiped out, cracks of the credit crunch spread far and wide. A major challenge is refinance of outstanding bonds of Rs 2.03 trillion," he said.

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On the resignation of Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) deputy governor Viral Acharya six months before his term was to end, Surjewala said he had added his name to the long list of experts who attempted to show the "mirror of truth" to the BJP regime.

The Congress leader pointed out that four economic advisors, two RBI governors and a Niti Aayog vice-chairman had resigned earlier and said this only proved that under the BJP regime, "there is a culture of disrespecting expertise, as also talent. BJP Government only needs 'Yes men' and 'puppets' and not 'expert wizards'".

He said while wilful defaults were surging by the day, banks were bleeding, investments had hit rock bottom and both public sector undertakings and private industry were suffering.

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