Reserve Bank Deputy Governor SS Mundra has said the RBI would like to see, among other things, as to how banks pass on the benefit of earlier rate cuts to customers before it goes in for another cut.
Mundra also said there are no differences between the Reserve Bank and the government on the proposed Monetary Policy Committee and discussions are on between the two over its structure. The proposal to set up this committee was given by the RBI some time ago, he said.
Since the first rate cut in January, the median base lending rates of banks has fallen by around 30 basis points, a fraction of the 75 basis points in rate cut so far, the last being 25 basis points in the June review. The slashing of key rates will also depend on economic data of the country, he said.
“We are not saying that there are no possibilities of rate cuts in the near future, but before taking any step in this direction, we would like to see how the banks are transmitting the benefits of the earlier rate cuts to the customers,” Mundra said in Indore on Friday evening.
SBI Chairman Arundhati Bhattacharya earlier this week said the bank had raised the rates by 30 basis points only when RBI had hiked the policy rate by 75 basis points, and the reduction in the bank’s rate has also been 30 basis points when the central bank has cut the policy rate by 75 basis points.
While unveiling the monetary policy earlier this week, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan had said as loan demand picks up in Q3 of 2015-16, banks will see more gains from cutting rates to secure new lending, and more transmission will take place.
On the monetary policy panel, Mundra said, “there are no differences between the government and the Reserve Bank regarding the proposed MPC. The proposal to set up this committee was given by the RBI some time ago. Some countries already have such a committee functioning.”
The revised draft of the Indian Financial Code (IFC), which proposes that any decision on monetary policy should be taken by majority by a seven-member committee without any veto power to the RBI chief, has created a furore and is seen as an attempt to curtail the central bank’s autonomy.
Mundra said the government and the RBI have held discussions on the structure of the proposed committee earlier also and the talks are on.
Sources said the proposal now being considered is to have three members from the central bank and three external members with a casting vote for the governor in case there is a tie. It has been argued that providing a veto power defeats the purpose of such a committee which is supposed to decide on interest rates and a casting vote would be a preferred option as is the case also in many monetary policy committees in other central banks.
The changes proposed in the revised draft of IFC would take one-two years to get implemented and so the MPC would not be in place during Rajan’s tenure. Rajan assumed office as the 23rd governor of the RBI on September 4, 2013, for a period of three years i.e, till September 3, 2016. The tenure can be extended by two years if the government wishes and Rajan agrees.
Mundra also expressed concern over non-performing assets (NPAs), or bad loans of state-owned banks. “Especially in the public sector banks, the percentage of NPAs is higher and we are worried about that. We have announced few balanced steps in this regard in the past four five months,” he said.
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