Restructuring of restructuring: Post 1st April NPAs may be upgraded as Standard under ResFra 2.0

– Anita Baid (anita@vinodktohari.com)

Source: FIDC’s letter to RBI dated June 3, 2021 seeking clarification on clause of Resolution framework – 2.0 relating to Individuals and Small Businesses and disclosures in the balance sheet read along with the RBI response via email dated June 7, 2021. Though called a clarification it actually makes a substantive positive change which is a silent realisation that there is substantial deterioration of performance of loans during the second wave of Covid-19.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had proposed two restructuring frameworks on May 05, 2021- one for individuals and small businesses (‘Notification 31’) and the other one for MSMEs (‘Notification 32’). The intent of both frameworks is to allow restructuring of the loan account in distress due to the second wave of Covid-19.

Pursuant to the restructuring of the eligible loan account (under the respective framework) the standard classification of the assets can be retained. However, there are certain disparities between the two notifications in terms of eligibility criteria, process, etc.

One of the major distinctions is the fact that under Notification 31, there is no relaxation provided to borrowers who have slipped into NPA between the period from March 31, 2021 to the date of invocation. Hence, such loan accounts, which have become NPA from 1st April to the invocation date, irrespective of being restructured in compliance with the provisions of  Notification 31 will continue to be classified as NPA. However, whereby the loan account slipped into NPA classification between the date of invocation and implementation of resolution plan, such account can be upgraded to standard classification as on date of implementation of resolution plan. This position is different in case of MSMEs coming under Notification 32, wherein the borrowers who have slipped into NPA between the period from March 31, 2021, till the date of implementation shall be upgraded to standard.

The aforesaid interpretation was coming clear from the language of para 16 of Notification 31, which states as follows-

  1. If a resolution plan is implemented in adherence to the provisions of this circular, the asset classification of borrowers’ accounts classified as Standard may be retained as such upon implementation, whereas the borrowers’ accounts which may have slipped into NPA between invocation and implementation may be upgraded as Standard, as on the date of implementation of the resolution plan.

As per the language, the asset classification can be retained as standard- this would mean the account which was standard as on the date of implementation has to be retained as standard. However, if the same has degraded to sub-standard category, the upgradation as standard is allowed only if it slipped into NPA between invocation and implementation. Hence, it could be inferred that the slippage before the invocation would not get the relief of upgradation upon restructuring.

This was a huge demotivation of the lenders who intend to restructure the loan accounts under Notification 31. Consequently, representation was made by the Finance Industry Development Council (FIDC) bringing to the notice of RBI that the restructuring notification for individuals and small businesses omits, though maybe unintentionally, to benefit the customers who may have slipped into NPA between April 1 and May 5 as it refers to invocation date and implementation date.

The eligible loan accounts of individuals and small businesses which were standard as on March 31, 2021 can be restructured under Notification 31 if the restructuring is invoked by September 30, 2021. Further, there is a likelihood that such an account may have slipped into NPA between April 1, 2021 till the date of invocation. Though Notification 32  for MSMEs clearly provides for an upgradation to account which might have slipped into NPA from March 1, 2021 till the implementation, however, similar relief was missing from Notification 31.

The RBI has, however, vide an email communication to the FIDC on June 7, 2021, clarified that the loan accounts that may have slipped into NPA between April 1, 2021 and the date of implementation, on the same lines as mentioned in Notification 32 for MSMEs, can be upgraded as standard assets on implementation of the resolution plan.

This would be a relief for not just the borrower but also the lenders who would not hesitate to restructure eligible and potential loan accounts, even if they have turned into NPA by the time the RBI notifications were issued.

Refer to our article on restructuring:

 

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