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RBI, govt to accommodate each other by November 19 meet

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New Delhi: The finance ministry and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) are burning midnight oil to defuse worsening tensions that has threatened to unnerve investors, ease the credit pressure on MSMEs and liquidity squeeze in NBFCs and reach a mutually agreeable solution over PCA-scarred banks.

While the rift is far from healed, both sides are trying ironing out some of their policy differences to restore calm and avoid acrimony at a board meeting of RBI on Monday (November 19).

While RBI governor Urjit Patel’s threat to quit is thought to be off the table for now, the uneasy truce is likely to see the central bank ease up on some lending restrictions to help the government stimulate the economy.

 

According to sources, Patel could agree to tweak restrictions on lending to improve credit flows for smaller companies with a borrowing limit of Rs 250 million.

The RBI board will also discuss norms for reserves and its sharing with the government under the capital framework besides the relaxation of the prompt corrective action (PCA) framework, sources said.

But redressal of credit squeeze in the MSME sector tops the finance ministry’s priorities, which is seeking some relaxation in norms for lending and addressing the liquidity crisis in the NBFC sector in wake of the IL&FS mess.

If not at this board meeting, sources said, the PCA framework relaxation could be reached in the next few meetings and it could happen without a board meeting and some banks may wriggle out of the framework by the end of this financial year. Of the 21 state-owned banks, 11 are under the PCA framework.

According to sources, RBI may take into account these banks’ performance in the last few quarters, their credit growth, slippages, asset quality, NPAs, return on assets (RoAs) and provision coverage ratio to decide on their eligibility to come out of the PCA framework.

The PCA framework kicks in when banks breach any of the three key regulatory trigger points — capital to risk weighted assets ratio, net NPAs and RoAs.

But the most urgent attention and steps would be sought from RBI in easing of lending norms for MSMEs, including strict rating criteria to improve credit flow, sources said.

The central bank seems to have been convinced by the North Block’s consistent efforts to relax some of these criteria to augment credit to this sector. RBI is also expected to consider special dispensation for MSMEs and NBFCs that have been facing liquidity issues.

The government feels MSMEs that employ about 1.2 million plays a critical role in the economy and the sector hit by demonetisation and the goods and services tax (GST) needs support. But RBI has been averse to the government demand for special dispensations for MSMEs and NBFCs as it considers them vulnerable and doesn’t want to increase the risk of higher NPAs.

On RBI’s capital framework, there could be discussion but no action or resolution on Monday, sources said. A committee may be set up to deliberate on the issue, as it will need threadbare discussions taking both sides concerns and arguments into account.

Last week, finance minister Arun Jaitley said there is a need to minimise NPAs to maintain the banking system’s strength and enable it to help economy grow. Only a strong banking system will be able to improve credit flow to sectors in dire need of it, he had said.


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RBI needs to ensure stability: Shaktikanta Das

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New Delhi: The head of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said he would take the steps necessary to maintain financial stability in the country and help create favourable conditions for growth.

India’s economy has grown because of measures such as the nationwide goods and services tax and the insolvency and bankruptcy code that prevents wilful defaulters from bidding for stressed assets, Shaktikanta Das said in his address to an investor roundtable.

The country’s growth story is backed by its strong domestic fundamentals, he said, citing lower inflation.

 

Annual retail inflation rate dropped to an 18-month low of 2.19 per cent in December, strengthening the views of some economists that the central bank could ease monetary policy next month.

India’s top business groups on Thursday urged the central bank to cut its benchmark interest rate by at least half a percentage point and lower the cash reserve ratio it imposes on banks.

The country also needs to watch out for any sudden turbulence in the gloal financial market, Das said.

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Centre removes two PNB executive directors for lapses in Rs 13,500-cr fraud

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Chennai:The Central government has removed two Punjab National Bank (PNB) Executive Directors — Sanjiv Sharan and K.Veera Brahmaji Rao — for the lapses in the Rs 13,500 crore fraud allegedly perpetrated by absconding diamantaire Nirav Modi.

The PNB has intimated the action to the stock exchanges.

“We welcome the Central government’s action to dismiss the two Executive Directors. The scam of such proportions could not have happened without the knowledge of the top management,” C.H. Venkatachalam, General Secretary, All India Bank Employees’ Association (AIBEA), told IANS.

 

“Perhaps for the first time, the Centra has removed the Executive Directors of a nationalised bank under the Nationalised Banks (Management and Miscellaneous Provision) Scheme, 1970. All these days it was said the top management of government-owned banks — Chairman, Managing Director, Executive Directors — are governed only by the contract of appointment.

“It is also good that the central government has followed the due process of giving the two PNB Executive Directors opportunity to put forth their views before dismissing them,” Venkatachalam added.

According to the Central government’s notification, on July 3, 2018, Sharan and Rao were issued a show cause notice as to why they could not be removed from office for having failed to exercise proper control over the functioning of PNB, thus enabling the fraud through the misuse of SWIFT at the bank’s Brady House branch in Mumbai.

After considering Sharan and Rao’s replies and the comments of the bank’s Board, the Centre removed them from office as it found it was expedient in the interests of PNB.

According to the notification, the dismissal of Rao is subject to the outcome of a plea in the Delhi High Court.

“We are happy to see some action being taken. Whether it is only the two Executive Directors and other officials are also involved in the scam has to be probed in full,” Venkatachalam said.

According to him, in the past, low-level officers would have been the scapegoats for such massive scams.

“With the action taken on the top management, people will be satisfied that public sector bank officials are answerable for their lapses,” Venkatachalam added.

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In this new world, data is the new wealth: Ambani

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Mumbai: Reliance Industries chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take steps against ‘data colonisation’, specially by global corporations, stating that Indian data must be owned by Indians.

Invoking Mahatma Gandhi’s movement against political colonisation, Ambani said India now needs a new movement against data colonisation.

“Gandhiji led India’s movement against political colonisation. Today, we have to collectively launch a new movement against data colonisation,” he said Gandhinagar at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit.

 

Stressing that, in this new world, data is the new wealth, Ambani said, “India’s data must be controlled and owned by Indian people and not by corporate, especially global corporations.”

He further said, “For India to succeed in this data driven revolution, we will have to migrate the control and ownership of Indian data back to India. In other words, give Indian wealth back to every Indian.”

Stating that the “entire world has come to recognise” Modi “as a man of action”, Ambani said, “Honorable Prime Minister, am sure you will make this one of the principal goals of your digital India mission.”

Later in the day, countering Ambani’s call, Governor – Commonwealth of Kentucky, Matthew Griswold, asked Modi “to think in the opposite” in order to realise the tremendous opportunity that lies in Indo-US partnership.

“Honorable prime minister you have been asked from this stage to think about limiting the amount of competition, limiting the exchange of ideas, information and goods. I would encourage you to think in the opposite,” he said.

While stating that it is important to put the people of India first, Griswold said, “It is also important to put their opportunity and our opportunity as citizens of the world to trade with one another and exchange ideas because iron sharpens iron.”

The greatest possibility comes from the exchange of these idea, he added.

“If we can cut the regulations, cut the bureaucracy, cut the red tape, the opportunity is enormous between our nations,” he added that India is now the 10th largest trading partner for the US and “climbing quickly”.

“The opportunity before us between India and the United States is incredible, but responsibility falls on each of one us, those of us in elected positions, those of you in the industry, those of you who represent various constituencies, we have much work to do…we must do this, ” Griswold said.

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