AT A time when bank credit growth has hit a low on the back of bad loans from previous years turning into non-performing assets (NPAs), Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) K V Chowdary has said “banks and organisations” are “not taking decisions” due to “fear of Vigilance”, and the Central Vigilance Commission is holding “talks every month” to allay such fears.
“There is a general belief or general allegation (that) because of fear of Vigilance, people are not taking decisions. But I, my colleagues at the Commission, and CVOs (Central Vigilance Officers) make a conscious effort to address groups of officers or organisations. For example, most banks call us, and we go and talk to them, saying that the myth that if you take decisions you will get into trouble, so the best thing is not to take a decision, or any decision which has gone wrong in hindsight leads to Vigilance… We try to tell bank officers that these are myths or incorrect statements,” he said in an interview to The Indian Express on Wednesday.
“What leads to Vigilance is a deliberate omission or commission, and not an innocent mistake… Almost every month, I or one of my colleagues address one or two banks and their officers. Like banks, other organisations also invite us,” said Chowdary. While he said the situation was “improving”, he added that there are “no statistics or standard” based on which the CVC can say the situation has improved or deteriorated.
The sluggish bank credit growth has been a political bone of contention between the ruling BJP and opposition Congress. While the Congress has used it to debunk the government’s claims of a healthy economy, the BJP claims it is a legacy inherited from the previous UPA regime.
Chowdary said the country’s top anti-corruption watchdog has also tried to assure safeguards against Vigilance freezing up “bona fide decisions” that could result in paralysis.
“Apart from going and talking to groups of people and organisations, assuring them that bona fide decisions are not taken to Vigilance, the Commission, in its own action, displayed that not every case that comes here ends up in a major penalty or prosecution. In a good number of cases referred to us, we also opine that they are prima facie cases of wrong interpretation of law, or a business or commercial decision becoming a case of bad loan. So that kind of confidence, we can give through the working of the Commission, where we can say… in a few cases, we have not taken adverse Vigilance notice of this case though there is a mistake,” he added.