Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government was considering steps to empower banks to recover bad loans, a day after a major sell-off in the stock market and a number of public sector banks reporting shrinking profits.
He also said there was no need for panic and investors should consider the economy's inherent strength.
On Friday, Andhra Bank and Canara Bank reported dramatic falls in profits and IDBI Bank slumped to a loss. Andhra Bank's October-December profit stood at Rs 34.46 crore, down 83 per cent from Rs 201.71 crore in the same period last year. Provisioning for bad debt rose to Rs 905.56 crore from Rs 541.52 crore in the corresponding quarter of the previous year. The bank's gross non-performing assets (NPAs) rose to seven per cent from 5.99 per cent in the year-ago period.
Canara Bank reported an 87 per cent drop in net profit to Rs 84.9 crore, year on year, from Rs 655.9 crore. Its gross NPAs rose to 5.84 per cent from 3.35 per cent. In absolute terms, its gross NPAs rose to Rs 19,813.44 crore by the end of December from Rs 10,573.57 crore a year ago.
IDBI Bank posted highest-ever quarterly loss by an Indian bank at Rs 2,183.68 crore in October-December, against a net profit of Rs 102.79 crore in the same period of last year. Its gross NPAs increased to 8.94 per cent from 5.94 per cent in the year-ago period.
"These are loans given earlier by these banks, and as part of prudent policy it has been considered that their balance sheets should be transparent. The banks are going to take all steps possible to recover loans from debtors," Jaitley said in a video uploaded on the finance ministry's YouTube channel.
He added the Reserve Bank of India had empowered banks to recover sticky loans.
The gross NPAs of state-owned had risen to Rs 3.01 crore by September 2015 from Rs 2.67 lakh crore in March 2015.
"The bankruptcy law is under active consideration. The government is also considering steps to empower banks to recover these monies. It's a problem which will soon come under control," Jaitley said.
"The government is committed to supporting public sector banks by providing whatever capital requirements because these banks have played an important role in supporting the economy," he added.
Jaitley also spoke on the mayhem in global markets and said that was the primary reason for the sell-off on Indian bourses. "There could be several reasons, the uncertainty over the Fed rate or what's happening in Europe or the slowdown anticipated in China. These factors will remain and will have to be tackled by those economies," the minister said.
On Thursday, the Sensex fell more than 800 points after foreign investors intensified selling on a weak global economic outlook and concerns over the health of Indian banks. This was the biggest fall in the Sensex in nearly six months. On Friday, the Sensex ended 34 points higher at 22,986.12.
"It would be part of prudent investment reaction that the inherent strength of the Indian economy is kept in mind rather than reacting disproportionately to the global developments," Jaitley said. India even in the midst of a global slowdown had stood out with a 7.5 per cent growth rate, he added.