- RBI to form panel to consider transfer of part of capital to government
- Central bank board met for little over nine hours
- Both RBI, finance ministry flexible on several issues: Sachin Chaturvedi
The Reserve Bank of India signaled a compromise with the government by agreeing to study a demand for sharing a part of its capital -- an issue that had triggered a public spat between the monetary policy makers and their political bosses.
The central bank will form a panel to consider the funds transfer to the government, it said in a statement after the board meeting that lasted a little over nine hours. It, however, did not immediately yield to demands for easing lending norms for weak banks while retaining capital buffers for banks at 9 percent.
The government and the RBI have been sparring over how much capital the central bank needs and how tough its lending rules should be. For a nation that relies on imported capital to fund investment, the reaching of a middle ground is key to retaining investor confidence in the world's fastest-growing major economy.
India is not alone in witnessing friction between its monetary policy makers and the government. U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates while President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has leaned on Turkey's central bank. Most economists argue leaving central banks to do their work free of political influence tends to lead to lower interest rates and inflation.
The rupee advanced and bonds rallied Monday before the meeting concluded, and amid optimism a common ground would be reached. The currency gained 0.4 percent to 71.6575 against the dollar, while the benchmark 10-year bond yield fell 3 basis points to 7.79 percent. One-month offshore non-deliverable rupee forwards rose 0.4 percent as news of the board meeting trickled in.
The board discussed Basel regulatory capital framework, a restructuring program for stressed small businesses, the health of weak banks placed under the so-called prompt corrective action and the economic capital framework of the RBI, the central bank said.
The 18-member board advised the RBI to consider restructuring of loans of up to Rs 25 crore for small borrowers, it said.
Getting the RBI to agree to its demands will help Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government meet budget goals by using a part of the central bank's reserves. The government also wanted norms for some banks to be relaxed so they can lend easily and keep the economy firing ahead of an election next year. An RBI panel will review those norms, according to the statement.
The central bank -- led by Governor Urjit Patel -- had pushed back against some of the moves earlier, keen to burnish its inflation-targeting credentials and clean up one of the world's worst bad-debt piles.
That approach has broadly helped anchor inflation expectations in a country where prices have often risen sharply, eroding investor confidence and leading to sell-offs in assets. The six-member monetary policy committee has raised interest rates twice this year and its decision has seen headline retail inflation slow to a 13-month low of 3.3 percent in October.
The board will meet again on December 14, Mr Chaturvedi said.
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