In Marathon meeting, RBI agrees to ease liquidity, increase credit to MSMEs

RBI vs Govt

RBI vs Govt: Crucial RBI board meeting today to set the tone on sensitive issues

The RBI's central board now has 18 members, including Governor Urjit Patel and his four deputies as full-time official directors, while the rest have been nominated by the government, including the Economic Affairs and Financial Services Secretaries. The board advised that the scheme should be subject to such conditions as are necessary for ensuring financial stability. While the government thinks the RBI has "excess capital" in its reserves and wants the central bank to transfer more money to it as part of the surplus, the RBI contends that it needs to have a stronger balance sheet to deal with a possible crisis and external shocks.

For weeks, government officials have been pressuring RBI to accede to a range of demands, from easing lending curbs to handing over surplus reserves to the government.

Former Union finance minister P Chidambaram on Monday expressed happiness after the government "grudgingly acknowledged" the independence of the Reserve Bank of India.

Financial markets, banks and corporate houses are eagerly waiting for Monday's crucial Reserve Bank of India board meeting.

Of the 21 state-owned banks, 11 are under the PCA framework, which imposes lending and other restrictions on weak lenders. Sources said that the BFS is expected to release some of the banks from the PCA framework in the wake of improvement in their operations.

The board, while deciding to retain the Capital to Risky Asset Ratio (CRAR) at 9 percent, agreed to extend the transition period for implementing the last tranche of 0.625 percent under the Capital Conservation Buffer (CCB), by up to March 31, 2020, the bank added.

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The RBI has been largely pushed to agree to the government line with respect to most of its demands.

Section 7 of the RBI Act: The meeting is being held amid growing tension between the Centre and the RBI after the Finance Ministry recently sought discussions under the never-used-before Section 7 of the RBI Act, under which the Centre can hold a consultation with the RBI Governor and issue directions in matters of public interest.

On October 27, RBI deputy governor Viral Acharya delivered an unusually strong statement warning against government interference in RBI's affairs.

"My guess is that the independent directors (at least most of them) realized that the government was on a perilous course and refused to go beyond giving advice to the RBI".

"The Reserve Bank of India Governor should work in sync with the government or otherwise resign", SJM's co-convener Ashwani Mahajan had said.

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