The government wants greater involvement in the Reserve Bank of India (RBI‘s) decision making as it feels the current practice leaves it out on many critical matters like single-day default turning a loan into an NPA, sources said ahead of the crucial board meeting of the central bank. The government feels that as the representative of the people, it should be involved in crucial policy decisions made by the RBI, they added.
To buttress its point, sources stated the government cites that quorum for some of the sub-committees is completed by the presence of the governor and four deputy governors and not requiring any other directors to be currently. However, the central board of the RBI is led by the governor and includes two government nominee directors and 11 independent directors. Presently, the central board has 18 members, with the provision of it going up to 21.
The board is fixed to meet on Monday where the government is expected to push for easing of norms for lending to the MSME sector, relaxing the Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework for weak banks and the appropriate size of reserve to be maintained by the central bank, among others. Sources also said the government and Reserve Bank look to be veering around to reach an agreeable solution, particularly with respect to relaxation of PCA framework and easing of lending norms for the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
If not in this board meeting, the matter of relaxation of PCA framework which the Finance Ministry has been pitching for would be reached in the next few weeks, sources added. Consequently the relaxation, some banks may come out of the PCA framework by the end of the current fiscal. Of the 21 state-owned banks, 11 are under the PCA framework. 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). The RBI is also likely to agree to ease of lending norms for MSMEs, including strict rating criteria, to improve credit flow to this sector, sources said. Besides, the central bank is expected to consider special dispensation for the MSME sector and non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) which have been facing liquidity issues.
The government feels that MSMEs, which employ about 12 crore people, play a critical role in the economy, and the sector which was hit by demonetization and implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) needs some support. However, the central bank has been averse to the government’s demand for special dispensation for MSME and NBFC sectors as it considers them to be vulnerable.
Last week, finance minister Arun Jaitley said there is a need to minimize NPAs in order to maintain the strength of the banking system and enable it to help the economy grow. It is only a strong banking system that will be able to improve credit in those sectors which really need credit, the finance minister had said, adding, “The MSME sector needs credit, several other players in the market need credit. NBFCs today need credit because a large part of lending is done by them.”