RBI governor may consider resigning after rift with govt

31 October, 2018, 11:56 | Author: Teresa Adams
  • RBI vs Centre Govt refuses to back down says central bank has to be guided by'public interest

RBI deputy governor Viral Acharya, pressing for independence of the central bank, said that lack of autonomy prevents it from regulating public sector lenders, the Times of India reported.

Days after the rift between the Indian government and the Reserve Bank of India became public, some reports have suggested that the Governor of the federal bank, Urjit Patel, may resign. Another report in the Times of India said the government had mentioned the rule to the RBI in consultations, without invoking it.

Though differences between the government and RBI have peaked this year over a number of issues, including the central bank's handling of the Nirav Modi crisis and the latter's firm stand on bringing weak banks under prompt corrective action, the latest reason for the escalation is the liquidity crisis being faced by NBFCs. Second letter was on using RBI's capital reserves and the third letter was on relaxing constraints on PCA banks for loans to SMEs. The statement issued by the union said, the hiatus has widened now and the deputy governor has spoken more "in disgust and despondency" due to continuous nibbling by the government and the finance ministry.

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He added, "We did not invoke Section 7 in 1991 or 1997 or 2008 or 2013".

"RBI governor may even consider resigning". Experts and observers noted that before Patel, others, including Raghuram Rajan, Arvind Panagaria and Viral Acharya pointed at serious problems with the way this government approached economic policies and implementation. However, they added, there has been no talk of invoking Section 7 (1).

Reports suggest that the Centre has sent letters to the RBI invoking Section 7 of the RBI Act on Wednesday, 31 October, allowing it to issue directions to the central bank governor on matters of public interest.

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The micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sectors and power producers have been the worst affected, and have sought more time for resolution.

Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy showed his support for Patel and tweeted: "If RBI governor resigns then it is a direct outcome of FM blaming him publicly yesterday for NPAs".

While Finance Minister Arun Jaitley met Patel on Tuesday at a scheduled meeting, there was no discussion about the rift, according to an official who asked not to be identified citing rules. In particular, the central bank is not directly subject to political time pressures and the induced neglect of the future; by virtue of being nominated rather than elected, central bankers have horizons of decision-making that tend to be longer than that of governments, spanning election cycles or war periods. 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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