January 20, 2019

Generalised farm loan waiver impacts credit culture, says RBI Governor

08 January 2019, 09:46 | Hattie Nash

The government and RBI have now appointed a panel to look into the issue around the sharing of the RBI’s reserves

The government and RBI have now appointed a panel to look into the issue around the sharing of the RBI’s reserves

"As and when any decision (on interim dividend) is taken the Reserve Bank will not delay in announcing the decision", he said.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), having changed management last month following a clash with the government, is likely to transfer an interim dividend of Rs 30,000-40,000 crore ($4.32 billion-$5.8 billion) to the government by March, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

The government has requested the RBI to give interim dividend as was done in the past.

States need to examine whether they have fiscal space to meet the requirement of farm loan waivers announced by many states and release the money to banks immediately, said the RBI governor.

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"We do realise that governance reforms are an important component of the revival of public sector banks", said Das who replaced Urjit Patel as RBI Governor last month after Patel resigned following a tiff with the government on liquidity issue.

"We will take steps to deal with liquidity deficit, if it is noticed".

He further added that caution and care have to be exercised by the RBI so that excess liquidity, which sometime has certain adverse consequences, is not created.

In fact the RBI had refused to relent on the issue before the prime minister launched a MSME support programme in early November, which, among other things, aimed to enhance credit access to micro, small and medium businesses. Any infusion of liquidity will have to be very carefully considered and has to be need-based. "However, we don't want to create a framework which imposes restrictions that throttle the functioning of banks", he said.

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Asking for rationalisation, Das added: "However I must also add that the RBI would not like a situation wherein the liquidity becomes kind of "loose money".

He said banks have been asked to look at the viability of individual proposals for loan restructuring of MSMEs.

The asset quality of commercial banks has improved, but the improvements will have to be sustained if the banks, especially the public sector ones, are to fulfil their responsibilities and become healthy, Das said.

The governor added that the RBI hopes MSME units and banks will be working together to ensure that the scheme is implemented in letter and spirit, so that the benefits are maximised.

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He said that the viability of each MSME unit will be gauged to ascertain whether the restructuring scheme would be available or not. The statement signals Das' bid to emerge as an independent central bank governor and shrug off charges of being close to the government. "The RBI will listen to everybody and interact with everybody including the government, but the final decision will be taken by the RBI in an objective manner to the best of its abilities", Mr. Das said.

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