Monday, 12 November, 2018

RBI autonomy essential, says finance ministry amid rift with central bank

Urjit Patel governor of the Reserve Bank of India at the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington D.C RBI governor Urjit Patel may consider resigning: sources
Andy Castillo | 31 October, 2018, 10:48

Section 7 of the RBI Act empowers the government to issue directions necessary for public interest to the RBI from time to time after consultation with the RBI governor.

Senior government officials said the RBI's guidelines on NPAs were not only stringent but "too harsh", and could have serious ramifications on industries such as MSME and power. The finance ministry could not be immediately reached for comment.

"The political dysfunction is yet further excuse for foreigners to head for the hills, sustaining pressure on INR", said Sue Trinh, head of Asia foreign-exchange strategy at Royal Bank of Canada in Hong Kong. The RBI also opposed a suggestion by the government's inter-ministerial committee to set up an independent regulator for payment systems.

The government will also soon issue a statement after media reports that the government had invoked Section 7 of the RBI Act.

With the war between the Narendra Modi-led NDA government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) escalating, there is apprehension that the government may invoke Section 7 of the RBI Act. But at the same time, there is an unmistakable sense of displeasure and warning from the government when it says that it frequently consults with RBI on important matters but never goes public with these matters.

Last week, RBI deputy governor Viral Acharya lashed out at the Central government, saying it was trying to undermine the independence of the central bank.

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The court observed that if the RBI and the government are at variance on any policy or regulatory issue, the latter should "consider whether the circumstances warrant the initiative of the consultation process" under Section 7 of the RBI Act.

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram wrote on Twitter that if the reports were true, "I am afraid there will be more bad news today". (2) Subject to any such directions, the general superintendence and direction of the affairs and business of the Bank shall be entrusted to a Central Board of Directors which may exercise all powers and do all acts and things which may be exercised or done by the Bank.

On Tuesday, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the central bank had "looked the other way" when banks were lending "indiscriminately" between 2008 and 2014.

However, there was no sign of resignation by Patel at the meeting, officials said.

Government officials were "very upset" with the RBI for publicly talking about a rift with the government, fearing it could tarnish the country's image among investors, Reuters reported. According to ET Now, Patel had told government not to "raid RBI reserves", as government was keen on the transfer of reserves to fill up its fiscal deficit amid NPA stress.

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