UDF accuses govt. of abandoning debtors

Members of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) Opposition walked out of the Assembly on Wednesday, accusing the government of failing to rein in banks from using strong-arm methods to recover loans from defaulters laid low by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Congress legislator Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan moved an adjournment notice in the House to discuss the socio-economic circumstances that drove twin brothers at Manipuzha in Kottayam to suicide. Their mother survives them.

Mr. Radhakrishnan said the youth had availed themselves of a housing loan from the local cooperative bank. The manual labourers could not meet the mortgage for want of work during the pandemic. The bank authorities repeatedly threatened the youth and said they would confiscate their house and four cents of adjoining land. Mr. Radhakrishnan said the prospect of forfeiting their home appalled the youth.

He said thousands of people across the State faced the same predicament due to loss of livelihood during COVID-19. The government has not moved a little finger to help them.

Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan said Kerala was on the precipice of suicide. Banks, loan sharks, private money lenders and non-banking financial institutions had employed goon squads to browbeat debtors into paying up. The agents spoke disrespectfully to women and called at homes at odd hours to pressure the residents.

They threatened them with revenue recovery proceedings and pasted legal notices outside their homes in full public view to embarrass them in the neighbourhood. The government should urgently summon the State Level Banking Committee and put an end to the harassment. It should immediately declare a moratorium on loan recovery.

Cooperation Minister V.N. Vasavan disputed the UDF’s version of events. He said no bank official had threatened the family. They had sent a notice last year to the brothers to meet their monthly mortgage obligation. The bank authorities stopped there and took no further action. The government would cushion debtors and give them a leg up to surmount the pandemic induced financial troubles.

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 11:42:43 AM |

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