RBI audit panel, board to decide on dividend: Governor

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New Delhi, July 8 (IANS) The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Monday said its accounts have just been closed and based on the accounts, its audit committee and the RBI Central Board will take a decision on the Centre’s demand for a Rs 90,000 crore dividend.

“The accounting is just closed on June 30. Based on the accounts, the audit committee of the RBI will take a call and then the Central Board of RBI will take a decision”, Governor Shaktikanta Das told media persons after the RBI’s Central Board meeting here where Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was to brief the Central Bank on the Budget measures.

Das was responding to a question if the central bank is comfortable with Rs 90,000 crore dividend demand from Centre.

He also added that there is a broad understanding on how much the amount is, while declining to comment further.

“It will be premature for me to answer that question in specific terms, but there is a broad understanding on how much it is,” Das said.

He added that the budgeted figure of higher dividend from the RBI was a matter which the board would decide on the basis of the accounting year.

Finance Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg last week said the government expects Rs 90,000 crore as dividend from the RBI in the current fiscal. This is 32 per cent jump from the previous fiscal, when the central bank paid Rs 68,000 crore to the government including Rs 28,000 crore as interim dividend. This was the highest receipt from the Reserve Bank in a single financial year, exceeding the Rs 65,896 crore received in 2015-16 and Rs 40,659 crore in 2017-18.

“The Reserve Bank dividend will come after the annual meeting. The government has estimated about Rs 90,000 crore as dividend from the RBI,” Garg had said.

The Union Budget 2019-20 has fixed dividend or surplus of the RBI, nationalised banks and financial institutions at Rs 1.06 lakh crore up from Rs 74,140.37 crore realised in the previous fiscal. It is higher than the Rs 82,910 crore estimated in February’s interim budget and Rs 74,100 crore pegged last year.

Earlier, Governor Das said that the RBI is keeping a close watch on the way the non-banking financial institutions (NBFCs) function, currently battling a liquidity crisis.

“We are monitoring NBFCs based on their size of operations and on their past repayment behaviour. We are monitoring their operations very closely and at regular intervals,” he said.

In a major step aimed at easing the funds flow to the NBFCs, the Finance Minister in her maiden Budget on July 5 announced that the Centre would lend a helping hand to top-rated entities. To enhance liquidity access for the sector, the government will provide one-time six-month partial guarantee of Rs 1 lakh crore to state-run banks for purchasing consolidated high-rated pooled assets of financially-sound NBFCs. This will cover their first loss of up to 10 percent.

Following this, the RBI also eased some liquidity norms to enable lenders to finance the troubled shadow banking sector.

The Governor said that from June 1, there is more liquidity in the system and also said that based on the budget announcement by the government, it is for the banks to implement the new rules and take them forward.

“The system is surplus in liquidity from June 1 onwards. It continues to be surplus in liquidity. and system is not just NBFCs, it is much bigger. So far as NBFCs are concerned, now the banks are, as per the announcement at the Budget, there’s 10 per cent backstop which the government is providing…. based on that, it is for the banks to implement and take it forward.

“The RBI will back up the banks if individual banks require additional liquidity. In the system there are so many banks… overall there is liquidity within that, if there are individual banks, which have a liquidity issue, the RBI will provide liquidity support to them,” he said.

The Budget also gave the RBI sweeping powers over housing finance companies (HFCs) and NBFCs, including the power to change the management at these firms. The Budget has relieved the National Housing Bank (NHB) of its regulatory powers over HFCs and handed them back to the RBI.

Das said that the RBI would discuss with the government internally with regard to supervision and regulation. “It is just like NABARD where regulation is with the RBI but supervision is with NABARD,” he said.

On the Budget announcement that the government would raise a part of its borrowing need through sovereign bonds and the RBI’s earlier reservations against such a move, the Governor said that the budget announcement has just been made and the RBI would interact with the government and discuss the matter internally.

On the inflationary pressures on the hike in petrol and diesel prices, Das said: “MPC (Monetary Policy Committee) will meet in the first week of August, and our internal team will assess this. There could be a marginal increase, but it’s not that, the next day itself, it will impact inflation. It takes time for transmission.”

“In the last MPC meeting I had said that by that time, 50 bps of repo rate cut had been announced, and out of this, 21 bps had been transmitted. And one positive thing that is happening now is, earlier it used to take 6 months for transmission, now transmission is taking much shorter period of 2-3 months.”

Das also said that the RBI would always be happy if the fiscal deficit was maintained.

“In this case, fiscal deficit has been improved actually from 3.4 per cent (of GDP) to 3.3 per cent. The RBI will be happy mainly because it limits so-called crowding out effect. So that’s something very positive because it gives more space for meeting the private sector borrowing.

“Overall there is fiscal glide path which the government is maintaining in the last five years… the government started with a fiscal deficit number of 4.5 per cent. Now it has gone down to 3.3 percent. There is a glide path which is being maintained. I think overall it will be good for micro-economic situation,” he said.

Das said that the additional recapitalisation of public sector banks worth Rs 70,000 crore announced in the budget was a very positive development because it would not only enable banks to maintain the capital they need to comply with the regulatory requirements, but would also give them enough capital to step up their lending and credit disbursement.

–IANS

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