Credit offtake from Corporate India is still low even as the so-called busy season is underway, according to State Bank of India Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya.

She told BusinessLine that it is at the same level as last year. There has been “some contraction mainly because there is a lot of repayment of earlier loans,” she said.

“Besides, there are a lot of corporates who have gone to the markets directly. And, few better-rated corporates have taken the commercial paper or bond route. So, they have not taken loans and you know the base itself has shrunk.” Similarly, the SBI chief said, many mid-size corporates are not taking loans, as they don’t need any money now. “So, because of all these things, the actual rebound in commercial loans is not still visible.”

On the working capital side, borrowings are not growing because the costs of inputs have come down. All commodity prices are low, the cost of energy has already come down, Bhattacharya said.

“We don’t yet see very many large projects, that is why on the corporate side offtake is still slow.”

Retail credit

Talking about the retail loan business as the economy enters the peak season. Bhattacharya said: “Retail is doing well. Pan-India, the demand is good, our demand is good. Compared with last year, it is much better.”

On merger of associate banks, Bhattacharya said, “The merger will see associate lenders coming on one platform. Further, rationalisation of branches will happen, because one cannot have an associate branch and an SBI branch sitting side-by-side.”