PM Modi said the bad loan ratio of public sector banks has dropped to the lowest level in five years and they are flush with liquidity. (Photo: ANI)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday called on bankers to step up lending without fear and satiate the credit appetite of a fast-recuperating economy and help spur growth.

Modi offered to stand as a “wall” to defend those bankers who may commit honest business errors, amid fears that bankers are turning risk-averse. “I am with you, near you and for you,” he said. He was addressing bankers at a conference on ‘Creating synergies for seamless credit flow and economic growth’ here.

The assurance comes days after former State Bank of India chairman Pratip Chaudhuri was arrested in an alleged loan scam case, drawing sharp protests from the banking community. Chaudhuri has now been granted bail.

The economy is recovering from pandemic-induced shocks and is expected to grow in the range of 8.7% to 10.5% in the current fiscal. A massive credit push is thus required for businesses to continue with their operations without hiccups and expand.

Having remained muted for months together, non-food loan flow has witnessed an uptick of late. Growth in non-food bank credit improved to 6.8% in September from 5.1% a year earlier. Loans to industry, however, grew only 2.5%. That is despite the fact the weekly average (net) liquidity surplus in the banking system jumped from an average of Rs 4.5 lakh crore at the end of June to over Rs…

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