Newly-appointed Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das on Wednesday stated that he will try to uphold the credibility and autonomy of the “great institution” during his tenure. He also maintained that he will take every
stakeholder, including the government, along in a consultative manner.
“I will try and uphold professionalism, core values, credibility and autonomy of this institution. It is an honour and great opportunity to serve RBI. I will try my best to work with everyone and work in the interest of the Indian economy,” Das said during a press conference in Mumbai.
This was his first public statement since assuming charge as the RBI Governor on Tuesday. Das, former top bureaucrat in the Finance Ministry and key face of the government during demonetisation, was appointed to the post for a period of three years. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet had approved the move a day after Urjit Patel abruptly resigned from the post citing “personal reasons”.
“I have convened a meeting with CEOs and MDs of public sector banks tomorrow morning. Banking is an important segment in our economy and it is facing several challenges that need to be dealt with. It is the banking sector on which I would like to focus immediately,” Das said.
Das deflected queries on differences with the government that led to his predecessor’s resignation Monday. “I wouldn’t go into the issues between RBI and government but every institution has to maintain its autonomy and also adhere to accountability,” Das said. “I don’t know whether the government-RBI relationship is blocked, but I feel stakeholder consultations have to go on.”
He also said it is heartening to know that inflation is on target with a benign outlook. “Inflation targeting is an important function as it is a mandated requirement of RBI now,” Das said.
The RBI central board meeting will take place on December 14 as scheduled, he said.
Das, who retired as Secretary of the Department of Economic Affairs, had served in various capacities in the Finance Ministry, including as Secretary in the Revenue department and as a key official in the Budget division. After his retirement on May 28, 2017, he was appointed as a member of the 15th Finance Commission and as the G20 Sherpa.
Das is the 25th RBI Governor. His biggest challenge would be to handle the pressure from the government on issues such as the restructuring of loans, infusing liquidity and sticking to its strict default norms for resolution of bad debts in banks’ books, where the Centre has favoured a more lenient approach.
On all of these issues, especially over the last 12 months, Patel had steadfastly refused to toe the government line. Patel also presided over one of the most disruptive and controversial economic moves by a government in many decades–demonetisation or the withdrawal of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.