3-member panel headed by Jalan to scrutinise new bank licences

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SummaryThere are 26 applicants from the public and private sector for bank licences

The Reserve Bank today set up a three-member committee under former Governor Bimal Jalan to scrutinise applications for new bank licences, which are expected to be awarded by by January.

"We have set up the committee under Bimal Jalan for bank licences, Usha Thorat (former RBI Deputy Governor), C B Bhave (former Sebi chairman) and Nachiket Mor (financial sector expert)...We will try our best to do it by January 2014," RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan said at a press conference here after a board meeting.

The panel will make its recommendations to the Governor and Deputy Governors, who will make the final proposals to the committee of the RBI central board.

Rajan said the central bank would endeavour to do "as much as possible" before RBI Deputy Governor Anand Sinha, who looks after new bank licences, retires in January 2014.

There are 26 applicants from the public and private sector for bank licences, including Tata Sons, India's biggest business group, and firms controlled by billionaires Anil Ambani and Kumar Mangalam Birla.

Among public sector units, India Post and IFCI have submitted applications. Micro finance institutions such as Bandhan Financial Services and Janalakshmi Financial, too, have expressed their intention to set up banks.

When Rajan took charge as the 23rd Governor of the RBI last month, he had said that an external committee headed by Jalan would screen applications for bank licences.

The RBI had issued guidelines for licensing of new banks in the private sector on February 22 and came out with clarifications in the first week of June.

In the past 20 years, the RBI has licensed 12 banks in the private sector in two phases. Ten banks were licensed on the basis of guidelines issued in January 1993.

The guidelines were revised in January 2001 based on the experience gained from the functioning of these banks and fresh applications were invited. Kotak Mahindra Bank and Yes Bank were the last two entities to get banking licenses from the RBI in 2003-04.

In the 2001 round of guidelines for new licences, the external committee members were C G Somiah, former government auditor CAG, I G Patel, former RBI Governor, and Dipankar Basu, former head of State Bank of India.

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