SBI defends $1 billion loan, Congress accuses PM of promoting Adani group
NEW DELHI: Amid controversy over sanctioning a $1
billion loan to Adani Group, SBI on Thursday said it has only signed a
preliminary MoU and will disburse the money only after proper due diligence.
SBI had on the sidelines of Prime Minister Narendra
Modi’s visit to Australia, signed a pact sanctioning $1 billion loan to Adani
group’s coal project in that country.
“We clarify that this is a memorandum of
understanding. This is not a loan sanction that we have given. It will go
through proper due diligence both on the credit side as well as on the
viability side,” SBI chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya said here.
“So all of that will be done. The board will take a
call and then only loan will be given. We have checked to see that there is no
environmental issue, checked to see that the cost of coal. The cost is also
currently around USD 42 FOB which is much better than the current prices in the
international market,” she said.
Asked about the exposure of SBI if its board approves
the loan, Bhattacharya said the net exposure would be to the tune of $200
million as there are some repayments also from the company.
On concerns being raised by environmentalists over the
port of the shipment, she said, “We also checked with Queensland’s government
they have clearly said that there is no environmental issue...the threat to
Great Barrier Reef is much more from the star fish attack.
“It is not from the Abbot Point port and today Abbot
point coal come at $42 fob (free on board) which is much below better than
international prices ruling today and quality of coal is very good. It is
non-polluting in nature."
Congress on Thursday questioned the decision of State
Bank of India to give $1 billion loan to Adani group for the development of
Carmichael coal mine during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's just concluded visit
“What was the propriety of the SBI giving the loan to
Adani, who was sitting next to Prime Minister during the visit, at a time when
some five foreign banks have denied credit to the group for the project?” party
general secretary Ajay Maken told reporters.
He alleged that the Prime Minister appeared taking
keen interest in ‘promoting’ Adani in getting the loan worth Rs 6,200 crore
during the visit in which the SBI chairman was also present.
Questioning the logic behind the huge loan to the
Adani, Maken wondered why the SBI was not showing the Memorandum of Understanding
(MoU) signed with the Adanis for the project.
“When five top foreign banks have already declined to
fund Adani’s project, what was the need and the sense in giving such a huge
loan to him from the hard-earned money deposited by the common people?
“Did the SBI do the due diligence? If it did so why it
is not declaring the MoU? On what conditions it was done? And what was the
liability?” Maken, who is also chairman of the AICC media department, said.
He also saw contradictions in the Prime Minister's
thrust on the coal mining in Australia and the coal minister Piyush Goyal’s
statement that India will be able to stop import of coal in the next two years.
“Whether the Prime Minister is saying the right thing
or the coal minister? The Prime Minister had said that the whole of India would
be lighted with the Australian coal. The coal minister said that possibly in
next two to three years India would be able to stop the import of coal,” he