State Bank of India (SBI) will try to keep the interest rates benign as long as possible with a view to supporting the economic growth, its chairman Dinesh Kumar Khara has said.
On the impact of the second wave of COVID-19 on non-performing assets of the bank, the SBI chief said that as the lockdown was not pan-India, one will have to wait and watch to assess its impact on the banking sector.
Observing that multiple variables including inflation have a bearing on the interest rates, he said, “our effort is to support the growth initiatives. To really ensure that happens, we will try to keep the soft interest rate regime for as long as possible.”
In an interview to PTI, Khara said it is too early to give any colour to likely scenario of NPAs because of local restrictions.
The impact of lockdown differ from states to states as it is not uniform, he said, adding, “so, probably we can wait and watch for some more time before making any comment on impact on economy and NPA situation.”
Speaking about various initiatives of the country’s largest lender, Khara said, SBI has decided to set up makeshift hospitals with ICU facilities for COVID-19 patients in some of the worst affected states.
The bank has already earmarked Rs 30 crore and is engaging with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and hospital management for setting up medical facilities on an emergency basis for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.