of the problem
liberalization reforms of 1990’s dismantled the license-quota raj and removed
the barriers to start a new business. But one of the key measures to encourage
business is the freedom to exit. As per World Bank reports, the bankruptcy
process in India averages around 4.3 years in comparison to 0.5-1.5 years in
US, Singapore and Finland. Further the percentage recovered is as low as 26% in
India as compared to 78-92% in the developed economies.
the Indian banking sector is struggling through the bad debt crisis. As per
central bank, at the end of December, 2015.the total stressed assets of the
banks increased to 14.5% of their total loans These stressed assets amount to INR
10 trillion which are hampering the business of the banks.
have been several laws in place such as Sick Industrial Companies Act, Recovery
of Debt due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act, etc. but this large
variety of laws have posed as a problem for the banks, leading to failure in
recovery of the loans. In addition, with the increase in presence of global
institutions and investors in India, there are concerns from international
investors on regulatory risks and time taken for the resolution. This calls for
the need to create a single mechanism for the businesses to resolve the
Insolvency and Bankruptcy code (IBC)
is a single law for resolving the problem of Non-Performing Assets (NPA’s) by creating a framework which reduces
both, time and cost in attaining liquidity, initiating the recovery process and
further improves the ease of doing business. The objective of the act is to maximize
the economic value of assets of firms, individuals and corporates by increasing
the available credit, and in due course of time, encourage the lenders for
higher debt financing and further to promote entrepreneurship.
Prior to the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code
have been using solvency processes however, these processes been used to
resolve smaller cases and are yet to do it in any large corporate account.
Another reason for lenders staying away is because the RBI hasn’t given any
clarification as to how the provisioning on accounts would work when they are
under the insolvency process.
need for such a law can be attributed to the fact a huge of
companies often file their appeals with the National Company Law Tribunal, but
withdraw these applications before the case could move further ahead. This
shows the lack of trust companies have in the system and therefore they prefer
an out of court settlement because it helps them save on the amount of time and
resources involved. Under all the previous acts implemented by the government,
the issues remained unresolved for years.
According to the Ministry of law, “Only 20 per cent of
all debts are recovered in India and globally, India ranks 136th in
time taken for resolving disputes.”
the IBC code came into existence, India had numerous acts to punish the
1. Indian Contract Act, 1872
This was the first law dealing with
insolvency enacted by Britishers during the colonial era. It was based on the
principles of ‘English common Law’ and had simple and elementary rules relating
of debts due to Banks and Financial Institution Act 1993
The RDBFI act was set up to counter the ever-growing NPA
problems in India. This was followed by setting up a special Debt Recovery
Tribunal (DRT) that could review the important cases. Before the enactment of
this act, a lot of financial and non-financial entities were facing challenges
in recovering debts from the borrowers. Since the courts were overburdened with
large numbers of regular cases, they were neither able to prioritize the
important cases nor expedite the existing cases.
3. The Securitization and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and
Enforcement of Security Interest Act, 2002 (SARFAESI Act)
Even after the implementation of the RDBFI Act, the balance
sheet of the financial and non-financial institutions had huge amounts of
unrecovered debt. “The Securitization Act aimed to expedite this problem by securitizing
and reconstructing the financial assets through two special purpose vehicles
viz. Securitization Company (‘SCO’)’ and Reconstruction Company (RCO).” The aim
of this act was to make adequate provisions for the recovery of the loans and
also to foreclose the security.
the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, banks managed their stressed assets through
Corporate Debt Restructuring (CDR)
or Joint Lenders Forum (JLF).
However, CDR’s have only been able to revive 17% of the stressed assets of
banks in 2016 due to ineffective monitoring.
RBI in 2015 provided the banks with the method of Strategic Debt Restructuring (SDR), which provided the lenders with
the authority to take control and run the business in order to revive them. However,
this method did not seem to appeal much to the lenders. Hence, later on in June
2016, RBI devised the method of S4A
(Scheme for Sustainable Structuring of Stressed Assets), wherein control
remained with the promoter, provided 50% of their debt was ‘Sustainable’.
However, its eligibility was limited due to the presence of certain conditions
like short term cash flow visibility, and preventing change in repayment terms.
The insolvency and bankruptcy problem was not controlled by any single law.
This problem of corporate stressed assets required to be managed effectively and
in a time bound manner, which led to the introduction of the Insolvency and
Bankruptcy Code in 2016.
and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016
Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code lays out clear differentiation between
insolvency and bankruptcy. Insolvency
is based on short term view while bankruptcy
is concerned with long term inability of the company to meet its
liabilities. Its major objective is to ensure faster and better debt recovery
for the Code –
Address the NPA problem
Reduce the time period of
Ensure better and
effective recovery process
Develop confidence of
Allow sick businesses a
second chance for revival
Insolvency Process –
corporate insolvency process as per the IBC Code has been simplified,
structured and involves the following stages –
Plan is implemented
financial or operational creditors of the company may file an application with
the NCLT (National Company Law Tribunal) in case of default, i.e., the failure
to pay either a part or whole of the amount due (installment or principal),
with minimum default of INR 1lakh. The plea if accepted by the Tribunal
appoints an Insolvency Resolution Professional (IRP) who is responsible to run
the company and prepare a resolution plan for the company within the next 180
days (extending up to 90 days). During this period, the promoters and board of
Directors do not have any say in the operations of the company. If the IRP is
unable to revive the business within the moratorium period, the liquidation
process of the sick unit is initiated to ensure recovery.
of Claims –
claims against the company shall be met in the following order –
insolvency resolution process costs
Secured creditors and
dues of workmen (up to 24 months)
Dues of other employees
(up to 12 months)
Claims of unsecured creditors
Government dues (up to 2
Unpaid secured creditors
Any remaining dues
Challenges in Implementation –
of banking system – The banks need to move
to more professional judgement from a lower cost policy to alter their system in
a tie-bound manner.
matters – Insolvency and bankruptcy is now
identified as a commercial issue with various matters requiring approvals from
constraint – The 180-day moratorium period may act
as constraint in case of insolvency of large or complex organizations.
of Professionals – Professionals should be trained
and equipped with the skills required to be an insolvency professional and
carry out the process with integrity
of Norms – The various policy initiatives of the
RBI such as the CDR, SDR, S4A nee to be aligned with the IBC Code.
in the Global Context
insolvency code has many provisions adopted from UK’s insolvency code which is
considered as the best working model of insolvency code but there are also some
differences. In both the codes, there is a provision that both creditors or
debtors can file for the insolvency. In both the regimes, during liquidation
priority is given to the secured and preferential creditors while payment and
before these payments liquidation costs are paid.
the UK, the insolvency professional does not require any approvals regarding
the operations of the company during the insolvency process but in India, the
insolvency professional requires to get prior approvals from the creditors for
some actions. In the UK, the insolvency professional has to provide a bond
whose value depends on the value of the asset involved so that he or she does
not get involved in any kind of fraudulent activity but in India, there is no
such provision. Also under the UK regime, only an individual can be insolvency
professional while under India’s regime, insolvency professional can be an
individual or a partner organization. Under the UK’s code, both operational and
financial creditors are included in the committee of the creditors and hence
both have the voting rights during the insolvency process but under India’s
regime, only financial creditors are included in the committee of the
creditors. The India code specifies the moratorium period from 180 days with 90
days of relaxation while in the UK, the moratorium period is not specified.
is the data for the time taken to resolve insolvency cases and the rate of
recovery i.e. cents recovered per dollar of loan issued in various countries.
Time taken (Years)
Recovery Rate (Cents/Dollar)
means before implementation of IBC
Insolvency Provisions –
IBC has many provisions adopted from UK’s insolvency Code as mentioned above
but lacks in certain aspects from being global. It does not provide for
Cross-border insolvency, i.e., relating to foreign assets and foreign
creditors. It arises when Indian firms have claims against global defaulting
firms or vice versa. The Code only provides the Central government with the
power to enforce provisions of the Code by entering into agreements with
foreign countries. The Bankruptcy Law
Reform Committee (BLRC) was of the view that the UNCITRAL Model Law on cross border insolvency, should be
implemented only after the effective adoption of the Insolvency Code, given the
complexities involved in cross border cases. However, the committee has
recognized its need in today’s global world. The Joint Parliamentary Committee
was of the view that absence of this provision shall lead to an ‘Incomplete
Code’ and hence included two sections in this regard –
234 – Agreements with Foreign Countries –
which allows the Central Government to make bilateral agreements with foreign
Letter of Request to a country outside India in certain cases – The NCLT
may request the authority in the foreign nation to provide evidence in relation
to the foreign claims of the debtor.
in the Domestic Context
India, before IBC, there were many laws for resolving insolvency such as
Companies Act 2013, Sick Industrial Companies Act 1985, Recovery of Debts Due
to Banks and Financial Institutions Act 1983, etc. It was a fragmented legislative
framework to resolve insolvency but IBC was meant to resolve cases of retail
and corporate borrowers. In the earlier regime, it took about 4.3 years to
settle insolvency proceedings in India but under IBC, this period has decreased
significantly. Also, the recovery rate which was earlier around 25.7
(cent/dollar) is expected to increase. In 2016, the non-performing assets were
9.19% of total loans issued by banks. It is a huge burden on the banking system
and the economy. After the implementation of IBC, the NPAs are expected to come
the introduction of IBC Act, India’s ranking for ease of doing business has
improved to 100th position. This can be attributed to the
improvement in the ranking of one of the ten parameters considered by the world
bank which is resolving insolvency, India’s ranking on this parameter has
improved from 136 to 103.
and Bankruptcy code is a revolutionary reform which will reduce the
non-performing assets but it has certain issues and following are our
recommendations to rectify those issues:
More than 1000 cases have
been filed under IBC in the last one year and out of these, 32% cases have been
filed by financial creditors (secured creditors) and 47% cases have been filed
by operational creditors (unsecured creditors). Thus, we see that even though
operational creditors file more cases, they do not have the right to vote.
We recommend that
the committee of creditors should also include operational creditors so that
they can also have voting rights during the insolvency process.
Under the UK’s insolvency
code, the insolvency professional has to provide a bond with value equivalent
to the value of the asset under consideration. This prevents any fraud to be
committed by the insolvency professional.
We recommend that
such provision should also be implemented in India to ensure that the decisions
taken by the insolvency professional during the insolvency process is without
any vested interests.
The insolvency process
involves the decision to either revive the business or shut down operations and
find a buyer for the sick company. In cases of decision of revival of business,
the insolvency professional hands over the company back to the promoter.
However, this involves the bankers to take a haircut and forego certain amounts
of their dues.
recommendation is that banks should not be pressurized to do so, it should be
done only in certain exceptional cases. The first step even in case of revival
should be identification of surplus business assets as well as personal assets
of the promoters, which should be auctioned to release the money blocked. This
money should be utilized for paying off the banks to the extent possible and
then ask them to take a haircut for the remaining amounts. This process shall
help banks recover their NPA’s to a greater extent without hampering the
revival process of businesses.
During the insolvency
process, assets which are under liquidation are generally sold at a value less
than their market value. So, the banks or lenders have to accept a haircut
while selling the assets. Some measures should be taken to avoid this. One such
measure could be increasing the moratorium period from 180 + 90 days to a
greater period to ensure better value is recovered for the assets of the
company due to market fluctuations. This will give more time to the committee
of creditors to find a better resolution option and increase the recovery for
banks and lenders.