November 28, 2012

MA0037 [Banking Related Laws and Practices] Set1 Q4

Q.4 Highlight the main provisions of SARFAESI.

Ans:

With an aim to provide a structured platform to the Banking sector for managing its mounting NPA stocks and keep pace with international financial institutions, the Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act was put in place to allow banks and FIs to take possession of securities and sell them. As stated in the Act, it has “enabled banks and FIs to realize long-term assets, manage problems of liquidity, asset-liability mismatches and improve recovery by taking possession of securities, sell them and reduce non performing assets (NPAs) by adopting measures for recovery or reconstruction.” Prior to the Act, the legal framework relating to commercial transactions lagged behind the rapidly changing commercial practices and financial sector reforms, which led to slow recovery of defaulting loans and mounting levels of NPAs of banks and financial institutions.

The SARFAESI Act has been largely perceived as facilitating asset recovery and reconstruction. Since Independence, the Government has adopted several ad-hoc measures to tackle sickness among financial institutions, foremost through nationalisation of banks and relief measures. Over the course of time, the Government has put in place various mechanisms for cleaning the banking system from the menace of NPAs and revival of a healthy financial and banking sector. Some of the notable measures in this regard include:

Sick Industrial Companies (Special Provisions) Act, 1985 or SICA: To examine and recommend remedy for high industrial sickness in the eighties, the Tiwari committee was set up by the Government. It was to suggest a comprehensive legislation to deal with the problem of industrial sickness. The committee suggested the need for special legislation for speedy revival of sick units or winding up of unviable ones and setting up of quasi-judicial body namely; Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR) and The Appellate Authority for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (AAIRFR) and their benches. Thus in 1985, the SICA came into existence and BIFR started functioning from 1987.

The objective of SICA was to proactively determine or identify the sick/potentially sick companies and enforcement of preventive, remedial or other measures with respect to these companies. Measures adopted included legal, financial restructuring as well as management overhaul. However, the BIFR SARFAESI ACT 2002: An Assessment process was cumbersome and unmanageable to some extent. The system was not favourable for the banking sector as it provided a sort of shield to the defaulting companies. 

Recoveries of Debts due to Banks and Financial Institutions (RDDBFI) Act, 1993: The procedure for recovery of debts to the banks and financial institutions resulted in significant portions of funds getting locked. The need for a speedy recovery mechanism through which dues to the banks and financial institutions could be realised was felt. Different committees set up to look into this, suggested formation of Special Tribunals for recovery of overdue debts of the banks and financial institutions by following a summary procedure. For the effective and speedy recovery of bad loans, the RDDBFI Act was passed suggesting a special Debt Recovery Tribunal to be set up for the recovery of NPA. However, this act also could not speed up the recovery of bad loans, and the stringent requirements rendered the attachment and foreclosure of the assets given as security for the loan as ineffective. 

Corporate Debt Restructuring (CDR) System: Companies sometimes are found to be in financial troubles for factors beyond their control and also due to certain internal reasons. For the revival of such businesses, as well as, for the security of the funds lent by the banks and FIs, timely support through restructuring in genuine cases was required. With this view, a CDR system was established with the objective to ensure timely and transparent restructuring of corporate debts of viable entities facing problems, which are outside the purview of BIFR, DRT and other legal proceedings. In particular, the system aimed at preserving viable corporate/businesses that are impacted by certain internal and external factors, thus minimising the losses to the creditors and other stakeholders. The system has addressed the problems due to the rise of NPAs. Although CDR has been effective, it largely takes care of the interest of bankers and ignores (to some extent) the interests of borrower’s stakeholders. The secured lenders like banks and FIs, through CDR merely, address the financial structure of the company by deferring the loan repayment and aligning interest rate payments to suit company’s cash flows. The banks do not go for a one time large write-off of loans in initial stages.

SARFAESI ACT 2002: By the late 1990s, rising level of Bank NPAs raised concerns and Committees like the Narasimham Committee II and Andhyarujina Committee which were constituted for examining banking sector reforms considered the need for changes in the legal system to address the issue of NPAs. These committees suggested a new legislation for securitisation, and empowering banks and FIs to take possession of the securities and sell them without the intervention of the court and without allowing borrowers to take shelter under provisions of SICA/BIFR. Acting on these suggestions, the SARFAESI Act, was passed in 2002 to legalise securitisation and reconstruction of financial assets and enforcement of security interest. The act envisaged the formation of asset reconstruction companies (ARCs)/ Securitisation Companies (SCs).

Provisions of the SARFAESI Act
The Act has made provisions for registration and regulation of securitisation companies or reconstruction companies by the RBI, facilitate securitisation of financial assets of banks, empower SCs/ARCs to raise funds by issuing security receipts to qualified institutional buyers (QIBs), empowering banks and FIs to take possession of securities given for financial assistance and sell or lease the same to take over management in the event of default.

The Act provides three alternative methods for recovery of NPAs, namely:
Securitisation: It means issue of security by raising of receipts or funds by SCs/ARCs. A securitisation company or reconstruction company may raise funds from the QIBs by forming schemes for acquiring financial assets. The SC/ARC shall keep and maintain separate and distinct accounts in respect of each such scheme for every financial asset acquired, out of investments made by a QIB and ensure that realisations of such financial asset is held and applied towards redemption of investments and payment of returns assured on such investments under the relevant scheme.

Asset Reconstruction: The SCs/ARCs for the purpose of asset reconstruction should provide for any one or more of the following measures:
• the proper management of the business of the borrower, by change in, or take over of, the management of the business of the borrower
• the sale or lease of a part or whole of the business of the borrower
• rescheduling of payment of debts payable by the borrower
• enforcement of security interest in accordance with the provisions of this Act
• settlement of dues payable by the borrower
• taking possession of secured assets in accordance with the provisions of this Act. 

Exemption from registration of security receipt: The Act also provides, notwithstanding anything contained in the Registration Act, 1908, for enforcement of security without Court intervention: (a) any security receipt issued by the SC or ARC, as the case may be, under section 7 of the Act, and not creating, declaring, assigning, limiting or extinguishing any right, title or interest to or in immovable property except in so far as it entitles the holder of the security receipt to an undivided interest afforded by a registered instrument; or (b) any transfer of security receipts, shall not require compulsory registration.

The Guidelines for SCs/ARCs registered with the RBI are:
act as an agent for any bank or FI for the purpose of recovering their dues from the borrower on payment of such fees or charges
act as a manager between the parties, without raising a financial liability for itself;
act as receiver if appointed by any court or tribunal.

Apart from above functions any SC/ARC cannot commence or carryout other business without the prior approval of RBI.

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