Karnataka cuts down on MSME loans to ailing units

The state has been reducing loans to MSMEs since 2014, a move that has bewildered industry analysts.

Karnataka was the only state which cut down on MSME loans, which are the biggest job creators in the country by over ₹800 crore in 2018, at a time when the government and the central bank stepped up efforts to tackle one of the worst crises in MSME sector since demonetisation.

As per RBI data, Karnataka’s scheduled commercial banks (SCBs) reduced their lending to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) from ₹47,820.66 crore in 2017 to ₹47,001.61 crore in 2018. On the other hand, all other states increased their lending between ₹1,000 crore and ₹3,000 crore.

Since 2014, Karnataka has constantly been reducing lending to MSMEs which are the most powerful force of the country’s economic growth and also have a multiplier impact on local economies as per the World Bank.

Karnataka’s loan disbursal by SCBs to MSMEs deteriorated from a high of ₹ 56,031.06 crore in 2014–15 to ₹47,001.61 crore in 2017–18. It was during the same period when states such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala and Tamil Nadu increased lending to MSMEs in the range 13%–20%. To add on, the newly-created Telangana also increased loan disbursals by 32%.

As per RBI statistics, only Andhra Pradesh, Delhi followed by Karnataka are reducing loans to small industries in the four-year period since 2014. However, in the past one year, even Andhra Pradesh and Delhi have increased loans due to the crisis faced by small businesses post demonetisation and GST.

With the credit crunch in MSME sector, especially in gems and jewellery, leather, textile, housing, the Reserve Bank of India, under its new Governor Shaktikanta Das, has taken a decision to permit a one-time restructuring of existing loans not exceeding ₹25 crore to MSMEs.

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