Patna: Beware of bankers. They can undermine even flagship schemes like the Prime Minister Employment Guarantee Programme (PMEGP) meant to foster entrepreneurship and employment.
Though bankers have earned infamy for giving loans to big industrialists and rich entrepreneurs without taking proper precautions and creating massive non-performing assets (NPAs), they can make a common man with dreams in his eyes run from pillar to post for a small loan and still not sanction it.
Bipin Kumar, 29, who runs a small mobile recharge shop in Patna City, thought of establishing a small iron works unit to manufacture grills. He applied to the PMEGP in August to seek a loan of Rs 25 lakh; Rs 12 lakh for capital expenditure and Rs 13 lakh for working capital. His entire family banks with Bank of India’s Gulzarbagh branch so he chose it for his application, which is taken care of by the Union ministry of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME). The ministry forwarded his application to the bank branch concerned on December 1, 2017.
A hopeful Bipin then began doing the rounds of the branch. He would meet branch manager Brajesh Kumar, who, Bipin said, kept denying anything had come from PMEGP.
“I had all necessary documents, including my PAN and Aadhaar, Udyog Aadhaar, matriculation and caste certificates, electricity bills, agreement papers of the construction site. I visited the bank branch regularly, but Brajesh kept saying nothing had come from PMEGP,” Bipin said. “He would tell me to take a loan of Rs 1 or 2 lakh and start something. A few months passed and I was losing hope, when, on February 19, I received a call from the PMEGP office asking me to report to the Khadi Village and Industries Commission and PNB Self Employment Training Institute in Patna on February 22 for a 10-day training. I had to report with a loan sanction letter from the bank. That was when I realised PMEGP had processed my application and sent it but the bank hid it.”
He rushed to the bank. Two days later, the manager gave him a letter saying his “application was under consideration and formal sanction will be accorded after he submits required documents and sanction by competent authority.”
He was somehow able to attend the training. “The manager would send me from one table to another or mockingly ask the peon to open the strong room and give me Rs 25 lakh. He would ask me to take an automobile loan and buy an SUV. I told him my documents were in place, but to no avail,” Bipin said. He said that Brajesh then asked him to get the site filled with mud so that bank officials can get the plot measured. Bipin spent Rs 80,000 to get it done. But again nothing moved.
“The manager then told me to get the building built and he would then sanction the loan, but I had no money left,” Bipin said. “I went to Bank of India’s zonal office in Patna; they asked me to come on April 15. They said the branch manager would sanction the loan.”
Bipin’s parents, who have accounts in the branch, say, of late, their cheques and withdrawal slips were being rejected on frivolous grounds.
Brajesh told The Telegraph: “Loans are sanctioned as per rules and I’d think about my branch’s benefit.” He could not say why Bipin’s loan was not sanctioned. There are several others like Bipin whose loans under PMEGP the branch did not sanction.
Courtesy: The Telegraph