The word ‘Punjab’is in the news for all the wrong reasons but this one - Punjab National Bank - is trying to do the right thing. Like ‘Udta Punjab’ that has been grounded, PNB is not in a state to fly high either. That is because it had extended a loan of Rs 118 crore rupees to M/S Golden Jubilee Hotels that owns Hotel Trident in Hyderabad. The amount has not yet been paid and on Friday, over a dozen employees of Punjab National Bank's Large Corporate Branch assembled before the Hotel gates as part of the PNB Recovery Campaign. They held placards that said ‘Repay Bank Loans in time’ and ‘Bank money is public money’ to shame the hotel authorities to repay the debt.
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“We assembled before the hotel and made a peaceful request to the hotel that was funded by PNB and six other banks. The total due amounts to Rs. 850 crore, of which PNB's exposure is Rs 118 crore,'' said Pramod Burman, Deputy Manager of the Punjab National Bank. “This is not even a protest. We are only requesting that they must return public money that the banks have lent.''
But the attempt to embarrass the hotel authorities which is owned by LN Sharma and others holding 84 per cent shares and M/s East India Hotels owning 16 % did not bear fruit. The hotel gates were closed on the demonstrators, with none of them given an audience.
The hotel authorities contacted by The News Minute said the matter was subjudice and they were not in a position to comment.
At a time when public sector banks in India are under severe stress thanks to bad debts to industrialists like Vijay Mallya, how to make the big fish to repay big loans has become a big challenge and public shaming is possibly one tactic to make the reluctant honchos pay up.