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As per the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), India’s banking sector is sufficiently capitalized and well – regulated. Credit, market and liquidity risk studies suggest that Indian banks are generally resilient and have withstood the global downturn well. The Indian economy is a mixed economy. It is known to be the world’s sixth largest in terms of nominal GDP. The legal environment plays a vital role in the economic development of a country.

After GST, IBC is the second most crucial reform in the legal setting of India. It was implemented through an act of Parliament. The law was necessitated due to huge pile up of non-performing loans of banks and delay in debt resolution. Insolvency resolution in India took 4.3 years on an average against other countries such as U.K (1 year) and U.S.A (1.5 years), which is sought to be reduced besides facilitating the resolution of big-ticket loan accounts. Two years on the IBC has succeeded in a large measure in preventing corporates from defaulting on their loans. The IBC process has changed the debtor-creditor relationship. A number of major cases have been resolved in two years, while some others are in advanced stages of resolution. 

With a strict 180+90 days ‘resolve-or-liquidate’ diktat, the Code has received commendation, not only from the Indian Industry, but from the global fraternity, including The World Bank and IMF, and has materially contributed to India’s 30 place jump in 2018’s Ease of Doing Business ranking. IBC truly enforces the concept of ‘creditor in control’ instead of ‘debtor in possession’, and maximize value recovery potential corporate debtors.  “Capitalism without Bankruptcy is like Catholicism without Hell," said Frank Borman, renowned astronaut and erstwhile chairman of a failed US airline. As such, the institutions established by the state should promote freedom to start a business (entry), to run the business (level playing field) and to exit/discontinue the business. The reforms of the 1990s focused on freedom of entry (dismantling the license-quota raj) and then, from the beginning of this century, the focus shifted to freedom of continuing business. The third leg, which is freedom to exit, has now been provided in the shape of the IBC, to provide a mechanism to stressed businesses to resolve insolvency in an orderly manner.

The IBC seeks to consolidate scattered and unstructured jurisprudence on insolvency prevalent in various Acts, like the Presidency Towns Insolvency Act, 1909, Sick Industrial Companies Act, 1985, Limited Liability Partnership Act, 2008, Companies Act, 2013, etc. On the positive side, we have witnessed that debtors were reconciling with the ‘creditor in control’ scenario, with the committee of creditors (CoC) becoming all- powerful in the resolution process.

It was the first time that the government and Reserve Bank of India were on the same page for effective resolution of the problem of bad debt and improving overall financial discipline in the way business is conducted in India. As Nelson Mandela said, “I never lose; I either win or I learn." The jury is still out on the IBC even though the World Bank has acknowledged the efforts.

WHAT IS INSOLVENCY AND BANKRUPTCY CODE, 2016?

“In One line we can say that in case of a default by the equity owners to meet their debt obligations, control is transferred to the creditors and equity owners take a back seat.”

The insolvency and Bankruptcy code, 2016 (IBC) is the bankruptcy law in India and whose aim is to consolidate the existing framework by creating a single law for insolvency and bankruptcy and amend the laws relating to the entities in India with the time being enforce. The consolidation of laws in India is not a new concept like GST was framed by consolidating 17 laws into one. This code was introduced in Lok Sabha in December 2015. It was passes by Lok Sabha on 5 May 2016. 

The purpose of this act can be divided into the following two goals:

 1. Making sure that the insolvency proceedings can be completed within a minimum amount of time.

 2. Making sure that the financial risks to the foreign investors is decreased.
Its primary goal was to consolidate insolvency resolution process for LLPs. Companies, individuals and partnerships.
 That being said, the purposes of these codes, being a part of The Companies (Amendment) Act 2017, are the following:

 1.  Establishing and amending the laws associated with reorganizing and resolving the insolvency of entities like partnership firms, individuals and corporate persons.

 2.  Providing resolution in a time bound manner.

3.  Promoting entrepreneurship in India.

4.  Maximizing the availability of credit in the Indian market.

5.  Establishing Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board in India.

The four pillars of supporting institutional infrastructure, to make the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Process work efficiently are:

  1. The regulator – The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India (IBBI)
  2. Adjudicating Authority (AA):
    1. National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) – For Corporate, i.e., Companies and Limited Liability Partnerships
    2. National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) will act as Appellate Authority.
    3. Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) – For Individuals and Unlimited Partnership Firms
  3. A private industry of Insolvency Professionals (IPs) with oversight by private Insolvency Professional Agencies (IPAs)
  4. A private industry of Information Utilities (Ius)

THE ROUTE TO THE IBC

The main objective of the act is to consolidate and amend the laws relating to reorganization and insolvency resolution of corporate persons, partnership firms and individuals in a time bound manner for maximization of value of assets of such persons, to promote entrepreneurship, availability of credit and balance the interests of all the stakeholders including alteration in the order of priority of payment of Government dues and to establish an Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

IBC provides for a time-bound process to resolve insolvency. When a default in repayment occurs, creditors gain control over debtor’s assets and must make decisions to resolve insolvency. When a default in repayment occurs, creditors gain control over debtor’s assets and must make decisions to resolve insolvency. Under IBC, debtor and creditor both can start ‘recovery’ proceedings against each other.

 

It is a comprehensive Code enacted as the Preamble states, to

“consolidate and amend the laws relating to reorganization and insolvency resolution of corporate persons, partnership firms and individuals in a time bound manner for maximization of value of assets of such persons, to promote entrepreneurship, availability of credit and balance the interests of all the stakeholders including alteration in the order of priority of payment of Government dues and to establish an Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto”.

The Preamble clearly states that the legislative intent to incorporate this code is

Firstly, to remove the ambiguity that had been prevailing in the previous legislations;

Secondly, to prevent unnecessary delays and to ensure fast dismissal of matters, i.e., within 180 days;

Thirdly, to prevent loss to corporate creditors due to depreciation of assets of the insolvent company;

Fourthly, to establish a balance among the interests of the various stakeholders, and

Lastly, to create a common forum to deal with such matters.

IMPACT OF IBC

The Covid-19 pandemic has been driving corporate failures around the world, including in India. The global financial news reveals an increase in bankruptcies due to the Covid-19 induced global lockdowns. While the bankruptcies are unfortunate, a recognition of the bankruptcies facing companies in the face of the collapse and an efficient resolution of such bankruptcies (which will allow both the companies and creditors involved to move along) is vital to rejuvenating the economy.

 In the light of the Covid-19 pandemic and business failures globally, it is important that financially distressed companies can still access the credit market thanks to a strong bankruptcy system and survive under stressed scenarios. Using a panel of 33,845 non-financial firms for the period of 2008-19 and by exploiting a difference-in-differences analysis, a study has been undertaken revealing the impact of the IBC policy on the availability of long- and short-term financing for, and the cost of, credit of distressed firms as compared to their non-distressed counterparts. As in most emerging markets, India’s debt market is dominated by state-owned banks and the domestic credit to private sector by banks (percentage of GDP) is 50 per cent in 2019 compared to a world average of 90.5 per cent (Source: World Development Indicators). Recent statistics from World Bank’s Doing Business Data show the creditor rights index in India improving from 6 in 2014 to 9 in 2019 compared to the world average of 5.67 in 2019.

Bose et al. (2021) study shows that after the introduction of the IBC reform, the access to long-term debt increased by 6.3 per cent, short-term debt increased by 1.4 per cent, while the cost of borrowing declined for distressed firms. This is the first study that provides evidence on the impact of the IBC policy on the “credit channels” of distressed firms. The enactment of the code has helped to enforce discipline in the country’s credit culture. IBC has created a credit culture that discourages defaults. There has been a change in the business culture as well: there is now an understanding that when things go wrong, companies will not get an automatic rescue package from the taxpayer funds. The objective of IBC was to create conditions so that credit could be generated from the domestic market and investments drawn from the international market. In order to achieve those objectives, it was necessary to create a culture of deterrence against default. The practice of dragging lenders to court to delay the repayments of outstanding loans is slowly coming to an end. India’s Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code is ensuring that lenders get repaid on time and this is making India a more attractive investment destination.

IBC has played a great role in macroeconomic objectives providing India a strong stand in the global platform. After the enactment of the code, the FDI has substantially increased. In 2012-13, the FDI of India was 34298 US$ Million and just after enactment of the code it rose to 61463 US$ Million in 2017-18 which is growing by approximately 80%. There has been an increase in Mergers and Acquisitions activity in the country. It also led to the establishment of Information Utilities (IUs) which further accelerated the development of the credit market of India.

In previous, no law prevented the operational creditors but under the code, there is a provision that the operational creditors (domestic as well as international) have right to file suit against the default. Thus, the code provides right to the foreign creditors which will enhance the economic transactions of India and others.

 MEASURES TAKEN DUE TO COVID

The global COVID-19 pandemic and its consequential lockdown are having an economic ripple effect on the business of Indian citizens. To mitigate its impact, in the last tranche of economic reforms, the Central Government made numerous changes upon the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 ("IBC"), and its adjudicatory processes, which will have wide-ranging ramifications. In exercise of its powers under Section 4 of the IBC, the Central Government has raised the threshold for invoking insolvency to Rs 1 crore from the existing Rs 1 lakh. This provision will relegate MSMEs to civil remedies for debt recovery and may have an effect of excluding it under the IBC. At this cost, the amendment may have successfully addressed the issue of frivolous recovery claims initiated under the grab of insolvency processes due to the seemingly low original threshold of rupees one lakh.

The government has come up with IBC 2020 to streamline the CIRP, protect last-mile funding, and boost investment in financially distressed sectors. The changes put a threshold condition for initiating CIRP by the financial creditors, who are allottees under a real estate project. It also imports safeguards for successful bidders, the corporate debtors, and its assets from the offenses of the former promoters or management.

India took decades to implement such an effective insolvency regime and improve its global ranking of doing business. It promotes entrepreneurship and tries to balance the interest of the various stakeholders.

CONCLUSION

Resolving insolvency in a strict time bound manner is an important challenge for any country to maintain a healthy and robust economic system. This study has made an attempt to understand and analyze the impact of the IBC on the credit sector of the economy. The study emphasizes the fact that IBC is a big step in the direction of resolving the issues of Non-Performing Assets and hence will act to the rescue of banks which have been facing a lot of difficulties due to corporate defaults. The number of companies that have benefitted from this law is large, there has been improvement in the speed as well as the success rate of the resolution process.

There is still a long way to go ahead and as the saying goes,

“We have to acknowledge the progress we made, but understand that we still have a long way to go. That things are better, but still not good enough.”

About Simran Saluja

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