Free public sector of systemic muck
With the arrest of the chairman-cum-managing director of Syndicate Bank, S K Jain, in graft charges, once again the menace of rampant corruption in public sector banks has been brought to fore. Jain allegedly took bribes worth Rs 50 lakhs for illegally increasing credit limit to a number private sector companies involved in coal scam. In its 22 July story, Millennium Post had frontpaged how the current chairman of Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) and former head of LIC, T S Vijayan, had allowed credit worth Rs 750 crore in loan and debentures to Unitech, one of the major 2G telecom scam players and a willful defaulter of loans taken from PSU banks. LIC, which is the largest government-owned insurance company with a customer base of over 28 crore, had been misled by Vijayan into lending hard-earned tax payers’ money to corporate sharks that have gobbled up the cherished savings of the aam aadmi. Millennium Post had asked how a man with a tainted past and a number of allegations under his belt has been allowed to continue as IRDA chairman, which is the top monitoring body overseeing the enormous insurance sector in the country. Now with the arrest of S K Jain, one more reason to cleanse the public sector of crony corruption has been drummed up. Of course, it’s Vijay Mallya of United Breweries and the grounded Kingfisher Airlines who takes the cake in case of willful defaulting of massive government loans.
Time and again, we have raised pertinent questions on the unholy nexus amongst conniving PSU officials, bureaucrats, powerful politicians, honchos of private sector corporations and middlemen masquerading as public relations officers in the media. Rising instance of non-performing assets and clearing of bad debts have pushed PSU banks to a state of extreme unhealthiness, flouting much of RBI guidelines and allowing a profit-minting class of babus and topiwalas to flourish at the expense of the common man and woman. At corporate top levels, apex officials of various PSU banks, including the CMDs, have used the pretexts of global slump, recession, interest rate hikes, repo rates, natural calamities and other innumerable paraphernalia as excuses to siphon off money to private sector banks and corporations, bending rules and festering a disgusting culture of gaudy extravaganza. Top management in PSU banks and regulatory bodies have repeatedly and purposefully misdiagnosed the problems behind the ailing PSU banks, while politicians have guarded corrupt officials and punished honest bureaucrats. Bad lending is the reason why much of India black money circuit continues to exist and indeed expand by the day. It’s now imperative for the Modi government at the centre to tighten the leash around the concentric rings of misappropriating moneylenders.