The finance ministry is gearing up to introduce a host of Bills, including the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill, repeal of State Bank of India (Subsidiary Banks) Act, 1959, among others, in the upcoming Monsoon Session. Besides, it is working on the Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes and Protection of Depositors Interests Bill. The Department of Financial Services (DFS) is preparing a draft Bill in this regard and will shortly approach the Cabinet for its nod, a government official said. The proposed legislation seeks to provide a comprehensive code to ban unregulated deposit schemes and protect interests of depositors.
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The Bill stipulates that any deposit taker who promotes and accepts deposits in an unregulated deposit scheme may be punishable with imprisonment for a minimum term of two years, which may be extended to 10 years, and with a fine which may extend to twice the amount of aggregate funds collected from subscribers, members or participants in such schemes or arrangements.
The Monsoon Session of Parliament begins next week on July 17 and closes on August 11. By all accounts, the most important legislative business of the session is going to be the replacement of the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, with an Act. The government in May promulgated an ordinance authorising the Reserve Bank to issue directions to banks to initiate insolvency resolution process in case of loan default.
Non-performing assets (NPAs) or bad loans of public sector banks (PSBs) have reached “unacceptably high levels” of over Rs 8 lakh crore, the bulk of which are in sectors such as power, steel, road infrastructure and textiles. The ordinance amended the Section 35A of the Banking Regulation Act, 1949. It has inserted Section 35AA and Section 35 AB in the Act. At the same time, repeal of the State Bank of India (Subsidiary Banks) Act, 1959, has been necessitated because of merger of five associates with SBI, the official added. Five associates and the Bharatiya Mahila Bank became part of State Bank of India (SBI) beginning April 1, catapulting the country’s largest lender to among the top 50 banks in the world.
Next in the queue is the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Amendment) Bill, 2017, that was introduced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Lok Sabha in the Budget Session. The Bill seeks to amend the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development Act, 1981. As per the statement of objects and reasons, the Bill proposes to empower the central government to increase authorised capital of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Nabard) to Rs 30,000 crore, from Rs 5,000 crore. Besides, it would allow the transfer of RBI’s balance equity of Rs 22 crore in the bank to the central government.
The RBI holds 0.4 per cent of the paid-up capital of Nabard and the remaining 99.6 per cent is held by the central government. This causes conflict in the central bank’s role as the banking regulator and the shareholder in Nabard. The DFS, the official said, is also working on introducing an amendment in the Negotiable Instruments Act (NIA) in the upcoming session. Jaitley had made an announcement to this effect in the Budget 2016-17. “As we move faster on the path of digital transactions and cheque payments, we need to ensure the payees of dishonoured cheques are able to realise the payments. The government is, therefore, considering the option of amending the Negotiable Instruments Act suitably,” Jaitley had said.
Another piece lined up for the Monsoon Session is the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill, 2017. The proposed law deals in matters concerning insolvency of banks, insurance companies and other financial services firms under the Bankruptcy Code, 2016. The Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had approved the proposal to introduce the Bill in Parliament last month.