Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Saturday that the government was considering setting up an expert committee to look into consolidation of state-owned banks. Such a body, if set up, will be separate from the Banks Board Bureau, which is also meant to look into consolidation of banks among other things.
Jaitley also said that the Centre was considering stock options for employees of the public sector banks (PSBs) besides strengthening the SARFAESI Act and Debt Recovery Tribunals to battle the burden of non-performing assets in the banking system, estimated at around Rs 8 lakh crore.
At the concluding press conference of the second edition of Gyan Sangam, Jaitley said consolidation in the banking sector was discussed and the bankers themselves suggested that an expert group should be set up soon to look into the matter.
"You need strong banks rather than numerically a larger number. The bankers have themselves suggested an expert group to immediately go into the matter of consolidation. We will consider that suggestion," Jaitley said.
There could be niche banks and banks which could survive independently and sustain themselves well, he said.
"The government is independently considering the whole idea of ESOPs for bank employees. This has been a long standing demand and the government is in advanced stages of considering it," Jaitley said.
Talking about crippling NPAs which, at 11.5 per cent of total assets, have impacted the bottom-lines of PSBs, Jaitley said that besides strengthening the institutional mechanism, the government has been taking sector-specific decisions to deal with the problems in segments like power, highways, sugar and steel.
"There are suggestions for amendments to SARFAESI Act and also suggestions with regards to expediting the DRT process by way of some more amendments to the Act. The department of financial services is working in that direction and is at a fairly advanced stage," he said, adding the DRT would be India's first online court.
"We are waiting for report of joint committee on bankruptcy and insolvency law, that will create a structural and mechanism that will help the banks and lenders," the minister added.