If Ministers pursue their own glories! Their portfolios fail to deliver!
Agri minister is now known for his big money business of cricket than for his political acumen and decision-making. So too his colleague, the Finance minister. This not-so-experienced youngish lawyer’s entry into politics and that too into the highly important portfolio of finance has really sullied the financial system, more so the banking sector.
Gone are the days when the public sector banks had any social obligation, they now make news for their high NPAs, poor performance record and also the failure to deliver on their social obligations. While the farmers’ suicides make routine daily mandatory news, also make news the routine mandatory role of private banks’ questionable practices and the role of loan recovery agents and their criminal activities that lead to deaths of poor and innocent victims and the agents themselves getting arrested by the police for their goonda acts.
Is this all for the two otherwise powerful ministers’ tracking records. Each one is pursuing his own private glory. The FM just now had come back from a world tour to canvass his own candidature for the IMF’s supervisory head job! Yes, Dr.Manmohan Singh’s team is not a happy team. There is no coherence, no collective vision, each minister is own lord of the universe.
Agri minister must do his job!
Finance ministers his job, rather on his own!
Co-operative credit revival package, now!
The agriculture minister, Sharad Pawar, has earned enough bad publicity for his many wrong moves. First his obsession with the big money sports of cricket, while it earned him big bucks, it also brought a wholesale condemnation by the rest of the society for his perpetual indifference to the farmers continuing suicides in his own state. Can’t there be any more bitter irony than this?
So, whatever Pawar does, given his supposed dynamis, seems to let him down in the public eye. See his of his latest move, the decision and the time of import of wheat for the second year running. First, he had done the unpardonable sin of continuing to import wheat, given Indian sentiments for keeping India’s honourable goal of maintaining food self-sufficiency and ensuring food security. The man simply doesn’t even bother to speak about the goals before the country. He doesn’t display any sensitivity to the issue. How can he hope to win friends and influence people and policies that are at the very heart of India’s development strategy.
You must at least have the flair for some public relations, you must inspire the people, more so the hapless farmers who under the present UPA regime have suffered so badly, the PMO cheques for suicide victims bounce ,not once but twice! What a shame! The PM doesn’t seem to have been embarrassed, while the country seems to have! The agri minister doesn’t have the qualms to admit the mistake and come to the public with some lame excuse at least! This, the PM doesn’t care to do, the agri minister doesn’t care to do.
Now, comes the slick-tongued finance minister with his own slick schemes and talks and might disappear from the scene to pursue his own goals of new glories and new pastures!
Just before the FM and the agri minister met to deliberate the ideas of reviving the dormant (why just dead as well) rural co-operative credit system, the FM also announced the highly “unclear”(to borrow the FM’s own word) microfinance equity funds!
First about these funds(because they seem to impact the rural microfinance schemes run by the MNC type foreign funds. The govt. would set up two funds of Rs.500 crores each “to facilitate easy credit availability to the poor. It acknowledged the limitations in the new microfinance bill which does not regulate ‘for profit’ microfinance institutions and he has asked for a draft report on the matter.
The FM said there is “no clarity on the government’s role in the microfinance sector. He acknowledged saying” we recognise the bill is limited. But it will bring legitimacy to the sector. It is not yet clears what should the government do. What it should not. He asked the microfinance companies and the banks in the microfinance sector for a report for the government to act.
Anyway, while the FM is not clear about what is going on in the microfinance sector he at least recognised that the credit requirement in the sector is as much as Rs.1,35,000 crore. There are 200 odd microfinance cos. The sector, the microfinance covers only 15% of the total poor. India houses 25% of the global poor!
Now, where does the co-operative credit system comes in?
The long term revival package of co0operative credit structure(LTCCS) costs Rs.4,850 crores.
The Vaidyanathan Committee recommended 16 proposals.
The states have reservations on 8 of the proposals.
The fm now recommends the revised LTCCS by Nov- end.
The trouble with the revival of the co-op credit in the rural and agri sector is that no one of importance, either the Prime Minister or the agri minister, not to speak of the Finance Minister, is seriously interested in the subject! That is the rub!
They, also the entire Cabinet in its present composition, have a serious commitment to look at the revival of the credit co-operative banking system without any political bias. After the TN government resorted to the wholesale write off of the farm credit that led to a subdued hue and cry among the left-out farmers who had also heavily borrowed from the nationalised banks, there is a hushed silence to the point of almost dead silence and now no one talks the subject at all!
So, this time too, with the Maharashtra co-op credit institutions are also in deep crisis, after the write offs for the sugar co-ops and also the massive direct funding by the central government, there is no clear policy perspective at all for the revival of this once vibrant sector.
So, what chance the agri/finance ministers meeting and talking of coming out with a package?
Let us hope they, the duo, are at least honest this time!
As for us, in this magazine, let us at least put forward some blunt recommendations.
Make Prof.A.Vaidyanathan himself the head of the implementation of his own recommendations. At least, he knows the subject and at least he would go about its implementation in a professional manner.
At least the general public would know that he is the man in charge of this revival package.
Or, if there is any practical difficulty, let us make a high profile man like Dr.Rangarajan, the current adviser to the PM as the sole in charge of this great national task.
At least the public might know who the real man in the revival package is.
Knowing the current “deterioration” in the functioning of the nationalised banks(PSBs),the private banks deploying the loan recovery agents and that is now a national scandal and also the accumulation of the NPAs by the big business and also the current banking scenario, where the banks don’t have enough borrowers, what hope that anyone in the government is seriously interested to go for the low priority co-operative credit system.
The real revival calls for dedicated men and women. There are still in the country such dedicated men and women. Search for dedicated co-operative leaders in the states, in Karnataka and other states where we hear about their work. Still there are credit co-op banks that do 100% recoveries without resorting to such criminal acts like hired goondas as recovery agents!
As for the PSBs, only god can help them. They are so bureaucratic in their functioning, any hope the PSBs would do the job for which they were originally nationliased has to be given up. They are functioning as islands, even the Finance Minister can hope for any help from them.
The irony is that today, the very government doesn’t seem to be serious about reforming the finance system to jell with the socio-economic demands of the various social sectors, like farmers, poor, the poor weavers and such artisan communities and their credit needs.
Does anyone in the government speak for the SMEs?
Does the Finance Minister know for what objectives the Nabard and Sidbi banks were set up in the first place? And what they are doing now?
Readers can test our contentions for themselves by just walking into these banks once to know what we mean by these remarks!
Is this aam aadmi government?
Banks as loan sharks. Private Banks are a menace! Their loan recovery agents are the new breed of organised crime! Luckily, they are caught on camera and make daily TV news!
While the “smart” private banks adopt sharp practices on the unsuspect borrowers, the PSBs are functioning in the good old bureaucratic mould. They are not public sector banks. They are as good as the old pawn brokers. In this “unreformed” economic sector, the finance minister is functioning like a willing collaborator, rather than a leader of a reformed sector. There are no institutional innovations all these years to address the different segments of borrowers. So, the tension and frustration built up and this shows in the continued farmers’ suicides!
Co-operative credit system is crushed by political interference and loan write-offs with no matching timely infusion of funds. Public sector banks have become indifferent to their social priorities. Inefficiency, indifference and insensitivity are the norm of PSBs. Private Banks has become loan sharks. Loan recovery agents, suicides and arrest of unscrupulous agents make daily news on the TV channels! PM is so disinterested, so too the agri and finance ministers! What hope for the co-op credit system revival? For the priority sector lending?