Praising MUDRA entrepreneurs who are “striving to pay back their loans”, President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday said when there is a wilful default on a bank loan it’s the honest tax-payer who bears the burden.

Addressing the 34th annual session of FICCI Ladies Organisation, Kovind said: “Genuine business failures can happen. But when there is a wilful and criminal default on a bank loan, then it is families of our fellows Indians that suffer.”

“The innocent citizen loses out, and ultimately the honest tax-payer bears the burden,” he added.

The president extolled the Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency Bank (MUDRA) borrowers for “striving” to repay their loans.

“It is admirable that at the grassroots of our country – in small hamlets and among traditionally underprivileged and deprived communities – MUDRA entrepreneurs are striving to pay back their loans,” he said.

“These are hard-working Indians, many of them women,” he added.

Kovind’s observation comes in the wake of the Rs 14,500 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) scam wherein diamontaire Nirav Modi and his group was implicated in mid-February, leading to a massive upheaval in the country’s banking system.

Nirav Modi and his business partner and uncle Mehul Choksi of the Gitanjali Group fled the country in January around a month before the PNB filed its first complaint against them. They are still at large.

Similarly, liquor baron Vijay Mallya is facing an extradition trial in London over a loan default of around Rs 9,000 crore to Indian banks and money-laundering charges of his now-defunct Kingfisher Airlines.