Mumbai: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday said the behaviour of liquor baron Vijay Mallya, the chairman of grounded Kingfisher Airlines and who has defaulted on Rs 9,000 crore repayment to 17 banks, has brought the private sector entrepreneurs in India a "terrible name."
"He has not only brought himself a bad name, he has also brought a terrible name to private sector entrepreneurs in the country," Jaitley said late in the evening on Monday.
"How long can you lead a life like this?" Jaitley asked, in an apparent reference to Mallya's lavish lifestyle. Hinting that Mallya's case was not a simple case of bad business environment, the Finance Minister said it might not have been just a clean business failure.
Participating in a public discussion with noted editor Shekhar Gupta, Jaitley said, "The sooner he settles his dues to the banks the better it is for the private sector." Jaitley also said Mallya cannot be ignorant about what happens to banks because of his default as there are other heavily-indebted companies which are settling their dues by selling their assets, but not Mallya.
"In a business failure, the whole sector suffers. In the same aviation sector, people who are in competition with him are surviving and some are even doing good. This shows there is a problem with the model (Mallya followed)," Jaitley said, and asked him to come back and settle the dues.
"I think there are sensibilities involved. You can't now totally segregate your personal wealth away from your business and then lead a very lavish lifestyle and (say) as far as the public banking system is concerned, I am unable to settle. Without going into the facts of this case, I have no doubt in my mind that I probably will be more inclined with what the RBI Governor is saying," Jaitley said.
RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan had recently said that people like Mallya could not lead a lavish life on borrowed money and continue to remain a defaulter, after the liquor baron threw a lavish party to celebrate his 60th birthday.
Mallya, who left the country on March 4 for London, has not responded to the first summons issued by the ED, which has now asked him to appear on April 2.