Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Demon of Demonetisation

In recent RBI history, some highlights: smooth transition to Basel regulations and efficient monetary policy under Bimal Jalan and Rangarajan, global aplomb post-recession under YV Reddy, preventing hyperinflation by Subbarao and taming of the NPAs by Raghuram Rajan. These achievements have put the RBI in prime position among central banks of the world. But the utter lack of planning and monumental mismanagement post-demonetisation by the same institution have tarnished its image.  

Banking operations other than currency operations in the country have almost come to a halt, barring exceptions. Credit is on a downturn. All the rating agencies, including Nomura, have down-rated the economic growth. The road to recovery sans GST is going to be difficult.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Asking the Right Questions on Demonetisation

This is what many in the country – both economists and non-economists – are doing. Strange indeed that fiction should overtake facts when an eminent economist and a popular columnist, Bibek Debroy chose to counter Manmohan Singh-likes that are just handful in the country in a column in the Hindu dated 12th December, '16. The fact is that majority of the population were in support of demonetisation. I demanded for it even in 2011 for three reasons that the PM mentioned. There was one more reason at that time – to contain inflation that was razing at 8.5% then.The fiction is that 98.7% of households have bank accounts that too with the proportions mentioned by him.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Doyen Among Journalists No More

To imagine that V. Hanumantha Rao (Vihari) is no more, is hard to imagine. He is a journalist standing tall among the community. Till his last breath he was contributing to the columns. There is no Telugu daily without his article. 45 years of my friendship vanished yesterday to my utter grief.

He introduced the feature articles in Telugu as part of the triumvirate - Potturi Venkateswara Rao and ABK Prasad being the other two when EENADU daily was launched. Till then only the English dailies used to carry the features on editorial page.

When I was Agent (now the Branch Manager) of Agricultural Development Branch, SBI, in 1972, he visited my branch as a UNI correspondent. He inquired of the activities of my branch because ADB was a structural innovation in branch banking of the SBI to serve the farm sector different from the other sectors it used to engage in. After seeing the farmer crowd, he asked me how will the 2000 SF/MF would be financed their crop loans in a week or ten days - as seasonal lending is of utmost importance. I told him that we would be completing the documentation and due diligence process in the villages adopted by the Bank and they were 31 in number. He asked me whether he could accompany me on such visits. I said: yes and next day we started for the villages at 7a.m from my residence.

He saw the bank field staff and me filling up the 9 page application, taking signatures on 9 page document of hypothecation deed, Demand Promissory Note and Take Delivery letter involving no less than 400-odd signatures and thumb impressions ( inn respect of illiterate farmers). We could complete on that day documentation and disbursement of farm loans to the extent of just 50 farmers!

At about 3p.m he left telling that he has to file a story from the office. Next day, June 20, 1972 if I recall right, all the news dailies and weekly tabloids and monthly journals later carried a box item:

'A Farmer has to affix 420 LTI/signatures even to get a Rs.100 loan. B. Yerram Raju, Agent, ADB, confirmed in a village adopted by the SBI ADB in Thagarapuvalasa Block of Bhimunipatnam Taluk.'

My residential phone on that  day started ringing from the day dawn - all calls from the Regional manager, Development Manager (Agriculture), Secretary & Treasurer and so on. The RM asked me to fly to Hyderabad as the Chairman R.K. Talwar wanted me to meet him. I took the Indian Airlines mid-noon flight.

The worry of the Bank top management was that using all the influence, they had published a photo of the inauguration of State Bank Staff College with Y>B. Chavan, the then FM and the Chairman of the Bank and the Principal in the front page of the then widely circulated Deccan Chronicle and right underneath the photo the above box item appeared almost annulling all their PR effort.

The most progressive Chairman that the SBI ever had in post-independence India, discussed with me over lunch the way forward to reduce the misery in such documentation. The solicitors were summoned to the Central Office and the Development Manager Agriculture facilitating documentation was simplified within a month.

VH proved what a journalist could do. He established DNF and published my first book under that banner: Commercial banks and rural development - Issues & Trends in 1981. He has a penchant for statistics and his analysis beats some of the best analysts on the financial dailies even at his 91. What a loss to the world of Telugu journalism? He has established the School of Journalism and produced a large number of responsive journalists.

He was responsible for my subscribing to the columns of Telugu dailies feature articles on subjects of public interest and they are as many as 250 out of my all the other feature articles numbering over 2000. Even 15 days ago he called me up and had a discussion on the fundamentals of GST and its impact on the economy. He wrote a piece on GST in Prajavani next day. A journalist of unparalleled stature exited this world!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Debates, Discussions, Demonetisation and Distress

Debates, Discussions, Demonetisation and Distress

Most discussions and debates on demonetisation have a few things in common: the move is right; it is the worst planned event in India’s economic history; calculations on black money went wrong; and rural masses are in distress unable to meet their daily needs. I am a strong votary of demonetisation. I am, however, not a supporter of complete digitisation or cashless economy. Less cash economy can be a target of gradualism and not maximalism.

Former Governors of RBI, C. Rangarajan, Y.V. Reddy, and Subbarao also lent support to the move in their articulations in the Press and media. Kenneth Rogoff, renowned economist also supported the move, but the mechanism suggested was gradualism and not a sudden action like the currently engineered measure. However, would all these articulations, mine not excluded, alleviate the distress of the vast rural masses?

Both houses of Parliament demanded a discussion, but were unwilling to discuss demonetisation for reasons that the common man was unable to understand. The distress of those who had to bury their dead or had imminent marriages in the family, not to mention the plight labour on daily wages has been immense. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

How Demonetisation affected rural areas

How Demonetisation affected rural areas

By any standards and by all means demonetisation of 86% Indian Currency that affects the valets of 1250mn population is no ordinary decision. Union Government sent shock waves among not just the hoarders of unaccounted money but also among the state governments and the huge political constituency. The measure may have precedence but the dimension of the effect has no precedence and therefore, economic historians are watching in gaze for generating a new script.

Cash is dirty; banks keep Dettol or soap for their staff handling cash to wash off their hands because of the bacteria that causes pneumonia, or viruses or skin infections. Yet we would love to hold them. Most drug dealers, casinos or prostitutes or casual farm workers prefer to receive cash for they only receive small remunerations for their day’s labour or night’s pleasure. Under-ground economy does not stop these few known. Waste and scrap dealers, many steel merchants join the gang.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Demonetisation hits road blocks in rural areas

Though late, demonetisation has hit as many bottom lines as the media headlines. Life will never be the same for those demanding gratis for nothing. No longer can the Private Medical Colleges sell the management quota for crores of rupees, for few are left with such crores. Even private money lenders would dispense credit at lower rates than before. NBFCs compete with banks getting their vaults overflowing with deposits in a couple of months from now. Institutional credit will be able to fall in line only banks change their mindset to serve the farmers, rural artisans, and MSMEs in a big way. While this is music to the ears, rural areas at the moment are in tears.

Out of 1,50,000 odd commercial bank branches, there are only other 1,30,000 access points with just 22 percent of them in the Post Office fold. Primary Agricultural Credit Cooperatives and District Cooperative Central Banks’ rural branches do not have currency holding capacities. A visit to the neighbouring villages on Thursday in Mahabubnagar and Nalgonda districts revealed the sob stories of the effect of demonetisation.

This being the season of marriages, several of those engaged in wedlock said that they took cash to buy the wedding clothes and decorations and they have to miss the Muhurtham if they were to draw exchange only Rs.4000 per day and that too travelling a distance of at least 20-30km to reach the Bank branch as the post office did not receive cash in lower denominations to substitute the withdrawn currency notes of Rs.500 and Rs.1000. And they have to do it every working day for at least 20 or 25 days if their dreams of marriage were to come true.

A tribal village in Adilabad served only by a Business Correspondent during the last ten months its banking requirements has a different story to tell today. The tribal families that are used to spending in Rs.500 denominations and remitting into the bank have no outlet to convert their Five hundred rupees into lower denominations.

Rural and tribal unbanked areas are not on the antenna of either the Union Ministry of Finance or the RBI when the demonetisation is announced. The FAQs of the RBI did not even make a mention of the Business Correspondents and Business Facilitators on the route map of monetising the demonetised currencies.

RBI should mobilise safe and secure Mobile cash dispensing vans to the rural unbanked areas for pre-specified and notified hours to exchange and remit cash up to the specified limits.

Presently, the BCs have limited holding capacity that is used for putting cash into the savings bank accounts of the villagers. The BCs since the early hours of 9th November stopped receiving the barred currencies. They also are losing their earnings by the day. Even they can exchange cash only to the extent of limits specified for individuals.

Several Indians staying abroad hold up to Rs.25000 per person in these withdrawn currencies. All the foreign banks and exchange kiosks abroad as understood from my daughters staying abroad have closed the counters for exchange of Indian currency. They also said that the currency to the earlier legitimised limit no longer holds valid and they can burn their Indian Rs.500 and Rs.1000. Our embassies and the RBI site does not provide appropriate answers.

Yet, the villagers and tribals are in great rejoice as they get money in smaller denominations hence forward to spend on consumables and liquor. Before it is late, the RBI would do well to immediately address the issue of replenishing the stock of old withdrawn currency wherever it existed with the new and lower denominations and also provide new outlets of exchange on war footing.  

For the first time after independence, the efficiency of Currency Department of the RBI and the Security Transport system are put to test and it is hoped that the central bank would live up to the expectations. Initial baby steps hold many lessons to correction.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

22nd Convocation Address on 22nd October 2016

Mrs Arthy Sampathy, Mr Sailesh, Prof V.G. Chari and all other Professors, distinguished audience and most importantly, all the graduates getting coronated today -  I am delighted and privileged to be amidst these blossoming flowers of life whose petals are in pleasant colours that the most beautiful butterfly would envy. At the outset, let me congratulate all of you for all that you achieved on this illustrious Siva Sivani Campus. I also congratulate the faculty and staff who should be feeling equally proud of seeing you transcending to a different territory.
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When Dr Chari called me on the morning of 16th of this month to adorn this dais I instantaneously accepted the invitation for, it is a great honour to be in the hall of fame of Siva Sivani Institute alongside doyens like Abdul J. Kalam who ignited the minds of youth and scientists alike. I also realise the responsibility to share with you such lessons of life that you would love to hear.
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If it is my parents who taught me love and affection, it is my gurus who made me sterner stuff. I shall invoke my parents’ and Gurus’ blessings before I call upon you to do all that you wanted to do after you leave this campus. “Matru Devo Bhava, Pithru Devo Bhava, Acharya Devo Bhava.
I was wondering what you would love to hear for the next few minutes different from what you had been listening during the last two years on this campus. I thought the choices made in my life at different points of time could be of interest to you. You are today fortunate to stand in the midst of an intersection that takes you to the roads leading to join a job or setting up an enterprise that creates the jobs.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Lack of oversight on credit guarantee raises concerns

Lack of oversight on credit guarantees raises concerns

Just a year back, Pradeep Malgaonkar, the chief executive (CEO) of Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) scheme was extolling the great strides it made in the geographical space of such guarantees. The Trust has issued cumulative guarantees to 23.23 lakh MSE loans involving an aggregate credit of Rs1.08 lakh crore over the past 16 years. Its corpus grew to Rs4,328 crore as of 31 March 2016. About 133 member lending institutions are participating in the scheme. 

But the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its Annual Report for 2016 expressed concerns about overleveraging of corpus and the way the guarantee scheme is functioning. Information asymmetry and adverse selection on the part of member lending institutions seem to worry the regulator. More worrisome issue is the absence of regulatory oversight on this institution. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Industrial Health Clinic for Telangana MSEs on the Anvil

Telangana Government has already put in place transparent, accountable, progressive and globally acclaimed industrial policy through TSiPass, T-Hub etc. Its inclusive industrial growth agenda required that the MSEs that actually oil the wheels of innovation shall be put on even keel with non-discriminatory promotional framework.

This has propelled the Industries Minister to adequately and appropriately respond to the call of the MSME Associations in the State that bee-lined to him to pour out their woes with the bank’s hurried actions in declaring them as NPAs only to sell of their silver that included their only dwelling house!!. KT. Rama Rao, Minister for Telangana deserves kudos for taking the initiative of reaching the Governor RBI directly – the first ever such effort in the Federal Republic of India to bat for the MSEs’ issues.

Friday, August 19, 2016


Most micro and small enterprises suffer from delayed payments for their supplies and services. Several contractual engagements with both the government and public sector undertakings also are not honoured.

In line with the long-standing demand of small-scale sector to alleviate the problem of delayed payments the Delayed Payments Act came into being in 1993. The hope that the small scale industries would be relieved of the stress in working capital was short-lived due to ineffective implementation. The Act has been amended in September 1998 providing for payment of penal interest at 150% of the prime lending rate of SBI, defining default period as 120 days. It also provided for an alternative mechanism of arbitration and conciliation and also redefined the term supplier to include any institution, agency or undertaking notified as such by the Union Government. Industrial Facilitation Councils empowered to act as arbitrators/conciliators were to be notified by the State/UT governments. The amendments were effected to strengthen the Act, to make it more useful without disturbing the buyer - seller cordial relations and to provide a relief to the small suppliers from undergoing the cumbersome recourse of legal redressal through civil suits.

Subsequently, in 2006 when the MSME Development Act was brought in, the Delayed Payments Act was subsumed in Sections 15to18 of the MSMED Act whereby the MSE Facilitation Councils replaced the Industrial Facilitation Councils. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

MSMEs on the Roller Coaster
Unhelpful Banks and Less Understood Regulations
B. Yerram Raju and K. Manicka Raj*
In a recent address RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan said: “A Banker who lends with the intent of never experiencing a default is probably over-conservative and will lend to too few projects, thus hurting the growth.” In the same vein he added: “Indeed, sometimes banks signed up to lend based on project reports by the promoters’ investment bank (in the case of MSMEs chartered accountants), without doing their due diligence.”

There is a total mismatch between the banks understanding and RBI's intentions on the guidelines issued in respect of MSME financing , follow up and useful implementation of the various schemes. Because of accumulation of NPAs banks seem to have lost their sense of judgement and MSMES are the victims and the SARFAESI ACT 2002 has become very handy. Even in the best of times banks did not revive or restructure small scale industries more than 1.5 percent of their own assessed potentially viable enterprises as revealed by the RBI Annual Reports.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Are we on the right track in tackling NPAs?

Are we on the right track for NPA resolution?
B. Yerram Raju*
In the last few years, barring the 2008 Recession and its global impact, no subject other than NPAs of the Indian Banks has occupied so much print space and media attention.

If good number of banks in the public sector has faltered in loan origination succumbing to external pressures, some others have failed to supervise their loan portfolio. But their contribution to NPA portfolio may not be more than 25 percent. NPAs that turn as bad loans are the real culprits. Only 20 percent of the total quantum of loans at the doorsteps of legal system could be resolved to the satisfaction of the banks, notwithstanding the projected empowerment of banks through the SARFAESI Act. The real reason is, therefore, beyond banks – the law and justice.

Friday, June 10, 2016

MSME Amendment Bill Destroys the Sector

MSMEs in India have great significance as they will be the drivers of ‘Make in India’, Start Up India, and Digital India strategies unfolded by the Union Government. They are governed by the provisions of MSME Development Act 2006, with the principal objective of promoting, developing and enhancing the competitiveness of the MSMEs.

Two years since the NDA government came to power MSME sector seems to be in a confused state with unresponding credit markets, slow moving equity, and adverse global positioning in spite of large potential for job growth.

MSMEs are redefined in September 2015 by way of amendment to rules to the 2006 MSMSE Act providing for vertical growth. Earlier definitions of SSI and MSMEs post 2006 accommodated horizontal growth and perverse incentives. But all the states have not fallen into grove.
New regulations and rules seem to be compounding the problems for the sector when it comes to revival and rehabilitation even as the Bankruptcy Law provides the long awaited relief for the large industry.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Tweak the laws and rules to prevent NPAs in MSMEs

The micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are the largest vendors for the Union and State governments in defence, aeronautics, electronics, safe drinking water equipment and services, medical and pharmaceuticals, solar equipment and servicing. The MSME Development Act (MSMED) also provided for MSME Facilitation Council, a quasi-judiciary institution serving as an arbitration and conciliation mechanism for disputes relating to the delayed payments for the goods supplied or services rendered by the supplier at little cost. Jurisdiction is restricted to units functioning within the State, although their dues can be with any undertaking or government outside the State. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Story of Dwindling Loan Recovery Cases

The story of dwindling loan recovery cases

There’s no point releasing the names of defaulters if the courts don’t follow up with quick and appropriate action

Have the courts helped banks accelerate the recovery of bad loans? That banks could not create enough confidence in their classification of ‘wilful defaulter’ is correct.
Recent representations to the ministry of MSMEs and the Reserve Bank of India, and agitations by the federations of SMEs prove the point.
If, on the basis of such classification, the list of wilful defaulters is made public, it would certainly damage not just the prestige of the person or institution involved but also permanently close the doors for further economic activity by such entities.
Secondly, the Bankers’ Book of Evidence Act clearly spells out the information that could be disclosed by banks. Thirdly, as RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan has repeatedly said, it hurts the financial system of the country.
A look at the BSR data (see table) shows the speed with which courts have responded to closing the bad debt cases referred to them. The loans recovered through judicial processes are dwindling year after year — it’s just less than 20 per cent of the amount involved.
The number of cases referred to courts increased tenfold between 2012 and 2015. The number of cases settled through any of the three available legal options of recovery of bad loans to banks has been on the decline. The amount involved in legal process of recovery is nowhere near the amount of NPAs declared for the year.
Lok Adalats look like small causes courts where lakhs of cases involve small amounts and the percentage of cases settled was less than 5 per cent in 2014-15. If we look at the DRTs, a highly expensive and time-consuming process, only 14 per cent of the amount involved is settled.
The much touted recovery mechanism through the Sarfaesi Act has not even touched 25 per cent during 2014-15. Its decline year after year is more alarming. Most cases referred under this Act are collateralised MSME loans and not big corporate advances.
Many questions
Some public sector banks have separated the recovery function from credit origination and monitoring. The officials in such outfits whose job is only to recover the bad loans, have already developed a negative mindset and would be averse to lending for development activities.
The questions that arise are: 1. Are the processes wrong? 2. Are the powers not being exercised properly in accordance with the law? 3. Are the properties overvalued at the time of loan origination? 4. Do all these cumulatively contribute to the failure under this Act?
A thorough study is required to go into these issues to fix them properly and make the necessary amendments to the laws and rules in the public interest. Banking reforms must address these core areas.
It is highly desirable that the Supreme Court does all that is required to accelerate the legal recovery process as evidence in most cases is writ large in banks’ accounting books.
DRTs are supposed to resolve the cases within six months. But hardly any instances of this are evident. No purpose would be served by just making the defaulters’ names public unless there are quick exemplary legal punishments meted out to the errant.
(This article was published on April 26, 2016)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

RBI treats obesity and anorexia with the same medicine
RBI’s move to restructure MSME loans amounts to treating obesity and anorexia with the same medicine
Dr. B. Yerram Raju
The units having sanctioned limits of Rs10 lakh and above, but up to Rs25crore areall bracketed for treatment with a single brush and this is unfortunate

In the din and bustle of mounting non-performing assets (NPAs) that attracted world-wide attention, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its 17 March 2016 circular took up the unfinished agenda of KC Chakrabarty Committee (2007) Report to remedy incipient sickness of the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector. 

The units having sanctioned limits of Rs10 lakh and above, but up to Rs25crore are all bracketed for treatment with a single brush and this is unfortunate.

The instructions also presumed that all is well with the banks and the MSMEs alone are responsible for their financial failures. Banks, with very few exceptions, stopped cash flow based or order-based lending for working capital of the MSMEs. 

The Nayak Committee norm of 20% of turnover as minimum working capital limit has been taken to be the maximum and not the minimum in the case of several micro and small enterprises.

Some of the reasons for the units falling into SMA-0 category are, inadequate or delayed bank finance, repayment obligations on term loans, which are incommensurate with the cash flows, inadequate startup period for repayment of term loans. Banks would be averse to review their own inadequacies.

The other uncovered area is the adverse effects of (a) long drawn agitations in the States leading to failure of infrastructure like power and water; (b) units affected by natural calamities like the floods, cyclones, and earthquakes that result in partial or full damage to the assets financed. Remedies are not possible within 90 days.

MSME units broadly fall into – stand-alone enterprises; ancillary enterprises and cluster based enterprises. While those in the former category could be having wider markets, ancillary enterprises and even some cluster based enterprises operate in narrow markets. If the anchor industries failed, the dependent MSEs would be a pack of cards in spite of themselves.

The Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small Enterprises (CGTMSE) scheme extends guarantee cover to units availing limits up to Rs1 crore within certain threshold if the primary lender extends loans sans collateral. It is mandatory to lend up to Rs10 lakh without seeking collateral security. 

Several banks take collateral for term loans and grant collateral free advances up to Rs10 lakh working capital. Once installment or interest becomes overdue beyond 90 days, both working capital and the term loan, the unit becomes NPA and the collateral security gets invoked for realization of all the loans. There is no mention of the treatment of CGTMSE covered loans in the latest circular.

Where the MSE with Rs10 lakh limit are vendors to the large scale, corporate, and medium enterprises also financed by the same bank or the consortium of banks, the failure of these could lead to the failure of the MSMEs within the naked eye of the banks. This is because such MSEs fail to get their bills paid in due time (from large clients) calling for repeated extension of period for repayment. In most such cases, neither the product nor the processes can take the blame. Madhav Lal Committee (GoI, 2013) suggested treating such delayed payment for accepted goods as income in the hands of the company and taxed. This suggestion is worth pursuing.

It is time that the banks incorporate in their loan agreements a clause to recover the MSE dues for accepted goods by debit to the purchaser’s account if the bills remain unpaid beyond the tenor of the bill. In case there are legalities coming in the way, the banks should negotiate for quick resolution of such dues as mediators between the MSE vendors and the large enterprises.

It is obvious that the SMA-0 required 30 days under the extant instructions in which case the NPA for MSMEs need to be redefined to those falling due beyond 120 days and not 90 days. Basel III dispensations provide enough leverage to the regulator to be malleable in the case of SMEs that the RBI can take advantage. Prudential norms and asset classification needs a review.

Further the fees to be paid for the Techno Economic Viability (TEV) study has also been left for the bank concerned to decide. An ailing enterprise may find it difficult to pay for it unless it comes as an interest-free loan repayable as part of the restructured loan installments.

Treatment of dues to the government by way of taxes, cess and duties require coordination with the state governments. This is obviously left for the Board appointed committee to decide. 

The Boards are expected to appoint such committee by June 2016 and the Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) to roll out the needed application forms in the next few weeks. Hopefully, the banks would see the intent of the RBI in expeditious processes in sanitizing the sector.

The most admirable part of the current instruction is the review mechanism highlighted in the annexure that provides opportunity for the aggrieved enterprise to revisit the recovery proceedings for any required correction.

About 14% of the total manufacturing sector credit is reported for the MSEs while 5.9% of the MSE credit has been declared as NPA. Banks mostly cover all the government sponsored accounts, most of which are in the services sector and transport sector under the CGTMSE. There is no information as to how many and how much of the manufacturing MSEs are covered under the CGTMSE and the amount covered under collateral securities. Banks proceeding against the collateral securities under the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act seek 10% deposit from the bidders and this acts as a major deterrent for the bidders. The result is that most such bids exhaust all the three chances without bids. The whole process takes three months. The Banks thereafter start exploring other means of recovery or rehabilitation. There are quite a few cases where the banks scaled down the debt or agreed to rehabilitate the unit that was considered unviable three months ago. The new instructions would provide better opportunity for the units confident of revival to press their case without having to wait for the aforementioned rigmarole. 

In the light of these instructions the role and relevance of the State Level Inter-Institutional Committee (SLIIC) needs review by the RBI. The disease is not cured by not naming the medicine but by administering it in right time. Treating obesity and anorexia with the same medicine. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Bi-monthly Monetary Policy can lower borrowing rates

RBI Governor in his first Monetary Policy during the current financial year has cut the key policy rate by 0.25 percent to 6.50 percent and sends the message louder than ever that banks should pass on the rate cut to their clients to pump prime the economy.

In the backdrop of a supporting fiscal policy and pressures built on the cut in interest rates by the government on its savings schemes all the eyes were on the RBI for a cut in key policy rates. The Governor proved that he is not going to be political but economic.

Growth of domestic savings has hit the lowest rate during the last three years. Inflation - particularly food inflation - still is a cause for anxiety in the backdrop of series of monsoon failures. Weather is weather and the hopeful forecast for the current year by the Met Department has to be taken with a grain of salt.

Banks have been provided a liquidity window should they need to use it, easier than ever. He recognized also the inability of banks to go beyond a point in lowering the interest rates due to their pile of NPAs, which he stressed shall move down southwards day after day if not hour after hour.

Banks should discipline themselves and discipline their borrowers and promote growth is the clear message of the policy.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Basel Committee Core Principles for Effective Financial Inclusion

Bank for International Settlements released a consultative document in December 2015, entitled: “Guidance on the application of the Core principles for effective banking supervision to the regulation and supervision of institutions relevant to financial inclusion” inviting comments before 31st March 3016. This document meant for effective supervision of the non-banking financial intermediaries is the outcome of a survey Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) conducted a range of practice survey in 2013 (ROP) on the regulation and supervision of institutions of relevance to financial inclusion and on financial consumer protection across 59 jurisdictions with 52 respondents.

I have kept the following ground rules in view while reviewing the Draft Document:
Ø  Cost of compliance must be less than the cost of avoidance.
Ø  Regulations and rules must be simple and straight forward inviting easy compliance.
Ø  Multiple regulators impacting on financial inclusion agenda should be able to strengthen and accelerate the implementation.
Ø  Financial Institutions engaged in financial inclusion should be able to deal with it as a portfolio for generating data and information required for proper regulation.
Ø  Instruments, tools and techniques of supervision should be uniform across the nations.
Ø  Financial Inclusion achievements should be subject to social audit as well.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Is data meant to please the bosses in Banks?

“The growth in CASA deposits moderated due to decline in savings deposits that in turn got reflected in overall decline in deposit growth.
Bank-group wise, PSBs recorded decline in CASA deposits while PVBs and FBs recorded higher growth during 2014-15.” 
The decline would have been more alarming but for JAN Dhan.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Nature's Bounty

Sweet Memories
Calgary -2

The lovely morning Sun
Shy of emitting heat
In the dazzling white snow
Breaking into the cool dark homes
Courteously spreads the bright light.

Skylarks flying high
Watching the deer’s merry run
Collect the soft branches of dry trees
Only to make a beautiful nest
For their eggs to grow to safe wings.

Rabbits white and lumpy
Rolling and running
Playing in the snow carpet of my backyard
Enjoying all the smiles of nature
On the waning winter’s Calgary


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Consolidation of Banks is no cure to the Ills

James Crabtree of the FT reporting on the predicament of the then PM Singh commented in March 2012 that Indian Banking was at the brink and needed heavy capital infusion to catch up with Basel III requirements and clean up to measure up to the requirements of economic growth to revive to beyond 7%.

The position worsened ever since. Gyan Sangam (Intellectual Confluence), the second after the formation of the present government that discussed the revamp of the banks a couple of days back at Gurgaon, Delhi have not offered any better wisdom than loud whispers of consolidation of banks. Is consolidation of banks the right solution?