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PNB plans vertical to recover stressed assets

IANS | Mumbai |

Faced with a multi-billion dollar fraud, along with the problem of non-performing assets (NPAs), state-run lending major Punjab National Bank (PNB) has decided to form a separate “vertical to deal with its stressed assets”.

According to sources, the move is expected to aide the lender in effectively dealing with NPAs and increase possible recoveries.

The move being initiated on a pilot basis is a first for state-run banks, said a PNB source. The vertical will solely focus on stressed assets and recovery of NPAs, according to the source.

This will be tried out as a pilot beafore a roll out nationally in next six months, the source said.

Another move that the lending major plans to set up “separate pre-sanction appraisal and post sanction monitoring teams” for credit disbursal.

This measure, the source said, will ensure better governance and transparency.

“A new monitoring group will be set up to keep track of whether cash flow from projects is being used to repay bank loans and that there are no slippages,” the source said.

The new initiatives are part of the bank’s overall strategy — Mission Parivartan — which has commenced to tighten checks and balances in the system, including “strengthening internal control mechanisms”.

The strategy among other initiatives envisions the lender to form an independent think-tank to provide both directional and policy inputs to its management.

The lending major is also actively looking to leverage benefits of emerging technology including AI (artificial intelligence) and analytics both from a greater control over the audit process.

On March 16, the public sector bank’s top management during its Extra Ordinary General Meeting (EGM) reassured its shareholders, customers, partners and employees on the bank’s capability and capacity to overcome the recent fraud it has faced.

The bank also outlined a multi-pronged agenda to tighten checks and balances in the system, including “strengthening internal control mechanisms”, “extensive outreach to customers, investors and other stakeholders”, “focus on Current and Savings Account (CASA)” and “thrust on recovery of bad debts”.