IBA reaches out to government for refund of compound interest waiver by banks
IBA reaches out to government for refund of compound interest waiver by banks

The Indian Banks' Association (IBA) on behalf of lenders has approached the finance ministry to refund the burden fallen on their shoulders due to a recent Supreme Court judgment on the waiver of compound interest on all loan accounts which opted for moratorium during March-August 2020.

The March judgment of the apex court directed the banks to waive off compound interest on loans above Rs 2 crore availing moratorium as loans below this got blanket interest on interest waiver in November last year.

Compound interest support scheme for loan moratorium cost the government Rs 5,500 crore during 2020-21, and the scheme covered all borrowers including the prompt one who did not avail moratorium.

Various banks are at the different stages of executing the order.

Punjab & Sind Bank Managing Director S Krishnan said the burden on the bank due to waiver works out to be around Rs 30 crore.

The issue of reimbursement of the waiver amount by the government is being pursued by IBA on behalf of the banks, he said.

Asked if the finance ministry has responded to their request, he said, "So far, we have not heard anything positive on this." The apex court order this time is only limited to those who availed moratorium. So, the liability of the public sector bank should be less than Rs 2,000 crore as per rough calculations, sources had said.

The RBI on March 27 last year announced a loan moratorium on payment of instalments of term loans falling due between March 1 and May 31, 2020, due to the pandemic, later the same was extended to August 31.

The Supreme Court on March 23, 2021, directed that no compound or penal interest shall be charged from borrowers for the six-month loan moratorium period, which was announced last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and the amount already charged shall be refunded, credited or adjusted.

The apex court refused to interfere with the Centre and the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) decision to not extend the loan moratorium beyond August 31 last year, saying it is a policy decision.

Rejecting pleas for a complete waiver on interest the court opined that such a move would have consequences on the economy. The bench also said that interest waiver would affect depositors. Along with this, the court also rejected pleas for further relief in the matter.

Soon after the order, the RBI asked banks and NBFCs to immediately put in place a board-approved policy to refund/ adjust the "interest on interest" charged to the borrowers during the six-month moratorium, in conformity with the Supreme Court judgment.

The central bank also asked lending institutions to disclose the aggregate amount to be refunded/ adjusted in respect of their borrowers based on the reliefs in their financial statements for the year ending March 31, 2021.

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