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  4. Amid tiff with Govt, RBI's crucial board meeting begins; liquidity crisis likely to be taken up | 10 Points

Amid tiff with Govt, RBI's crucial board meeting begins; liquidity crisis likely to be taken up | 10 Points

Even though both sides are in favour of reaching a common ground, there have been demands from some quarters for Patel to step down.

Edited by: India TV News Desk, New Delhi [ Updated: November 19, 2018 10:49 IST ]
Image Source : PTI

RBI governor Urjit Patel and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

Amid tiff with Centre, a crucial board meeting of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is underway in Mumbai, where liquidity crisis is likely to be taken up. The Finance Ministry nominees and some independent directors are expected to take on RBI governor Urjit Patel and his team over issues ranging from MSME credit to the central bank's reserves. The meeting comes amid the growing tensions between the Centre and the RBI after the Finance Ministry recently sought discussions under the never-used-before Section 7 of the RBI Act which empowers the government to issue directions to the RBI governor. Even though both sides are in favour of reaching a common ground, there have been demands from some quarters for Patel to step down. However, Patel is unlikely to yield under pressure and will rather mount a strong defence of the central bank's policies regarding stringent NPA recognition norms as well as measures taken to ease credit supply to MSMEs. 

ALSO READ | Govt for greater involvement in decision making of RBI

According to PTI sources, Patel and his four deputies, who all are members of the RBI's 18-member central board, will present a united front, while a few independent directors too are expected to support the central bank's mission to clean up bank balance sheets. 

There has been a liquidity crunch in the economy, particularly among non-banking finance companies (NBFCs), following a series of defaults by the Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS). Though the central bank recently made some relaxations for the NBFCs and liberalised overseas borrowing norms for infrastructure companies, the government fears that the steps taken are not adequate and the credit squeeze may spill over to other sectors.

The RBI's central board currently has 18 members, though the provision is that it can go up to 21.

The members include Governor Urjit Patel and his four deputies as 'full-time official directors', while the rest 13 have been nominated by the government, including two Finance Ministry officials -- Economic Affairs Secretary and Financial Services Secretary.

ALSO READ | Govt, RBI likely to reach common ground on key issues

 

According to sources, the government and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) are looking to reach at an agreeable solution with respect to relaxation of the Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework and easing of lending norms for the MSME sector.

RBI Board Meeting today: 10 Points

1. The issue of relaxation of PCA framework might also figure in the RBI meeting today, or a resolution is expected to be reached at in a few weeks. As a result of the relaxation, some banks may come out of the PCA framework by the end of this fiscal. Of the 21 state-owned banks, 11 are under the PCA framework, which imposes lending and other restrictions on weak lenders. These are Allahabad Bank, United Bank of India, Corporation Bank, IDBI Bank, UCO Bank, Bank of India, Central Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Dena Bank and Bank of Maharashtra. The PCA framework kicks in when banks breach any of the three key regulatory trigger points -- namely capital to risk weighted assets ratio, net non-performing assets (NPA) and return on assets (RoA). Globally, PCA kicks in only when banks slip on a single parameter of capital adequacy ratio, and the government is in favour of this practice being adopted for the domestic banking sector as well.

2. The RBI is also expected to consider a special dispensation for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) which have been facing liquidity issues. The government feels that the MSME sector -- which employs about 12 crore people and plays a critical role in the economy -- needs some support after being impacted by demonetisation and implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). However, the central bank has been averse to the government's demand as it considers the sectors to be vulnerable.

3. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said that growth must not be throttled by limiting credit availability and liquidity. It is necessary that the growth process does not suffer due to the cleaning up of the banking system from the "collectively committed sins" during 2008-14 when the regulatory mechanisms also overlooked high debt accumulation, he said.

4. Amid growing tensions with the central bank, the Finance Ministry had sought discussions under the never-used-before Section 7 of the RBI Act which empowers the government to issue directions to the RBI Governor.

5. RBI Deputy Governor Viral Acharya had in a speech last month talked about the independence of the central bank, arguing that any compromise could be "potentially catastrophic" for the economy. 

ALSO READ | Govt 'nurtures, respects' autonomy of RBI, says Finance Ministry

6. In his first public comments since the spat between the RBI and the Finance Ministry came out in the open, Swadeshi ideologue S Gurumurthy had last week said the stand-off "is not a happy thing at all". 

7. Gurumurthy, who was appointed to the board of RBI a few months back, had said the capital adequacy ratio prescribed in India is 1 per cent higher than the global Basel norms. He also pitched for easing lending norms for small and medium enterprises, which account for 50 per cent of the country's GDP. 

8. Last month, RSS-affiliated Swadeshi Jagran Manch said the RBI Governor should work in sync with the government or resign. "The Reserve Bank of India Governor should work in sync with the government or otherwise resign," SJM's co-convener Ashwani Mahajan had said.

9. Issues mentioned in the agenda circulated to the board members in advance, can also be discussed in the central bank's meeting while off-agenda items may also come up.

10. The RBI said earlier this week that it would inject Rs 12,000 crore into the market by purchasing government securities on November 15. "Based on an assessment of prevailing liquidity conditions and also of the durable liquidity needs going forward, the Reserve Bank has decided to conduct purchase of Government securities under Open Market Operations for an aggregate amount of Rs 120 billion on November 15, 2018, through multi-security auction using the multiple price method," an RBI statement had said.

(With agency inputs)

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