Govt, RBI on same page on new bank licensing

Written by Arun S | Sunny Verma | Updated: Feb 1 2013, 07:29am hrs
Outgoing department of financial service secretary DK Mittal (demitted office on Thursday), said the government is committed to push through pension and insurance reform Bills in the budget session of Parliament. In a candid interview with Arun S & Sunny Verma, Mittal brushed aside criticism of the government micro-managing banks, saying, instead it helped to improve the financial institutions in the country.

When can we expect final banking licence norms

The government has sent its comments and clarifications. Now, RBI would take one or two weeks to finalise the same.

Are you also open to consider giving licences for setting up of small banks

We have requested RBI to have a policy framework for all level of banks local banks, regional banks, national banks and global banks. This framework will enable banks to move from a lower level to higher level.

Are there differences between RBI and government, especially on issuing licences to industrial houses

No. We are generally on the same page. There are one or two small clarifications, which they (RBI) sought, and we have sent our response.

Can we expect pension and insurance reform bills in the Budget session

I think there is a strong commitment on the part of the government at the highest level. Rest will depend upon Parliament.

There is also a suggestion of allowing 26% FDI and 23% FII investment in insurance sector, possibly to win over Opposition.

I cannot comment on how it will pan out. You must appreciate that the government could get the two key bills of the banking sector passed in last session. It happened because of the commitment of the government and the finance minister in particular. So you please be assured that in the next session, the government will put its sincere and earnest effort to get these two Bills passed.

Do you see globally financial system stable at the moment

There is an equilibrium at this stage globally, and a lot will depend upon the economic growth. If growth happens, there is no issue. If growth does not happen, there would be a pressure on the banking system across (the globe), and it will also affect us.

And will it hit asset quality of our banks

Asset quality is being hit mainly because of our domestic concerns and domestic limitations not because of global factors alone. Global concerns do play a role, particularly in the export industry, but not that much.

Is SBI going ahead with mergers of its associates

Not this year. They may pursue it next year.

You have been widely criticised for micromanaging banks, which some bankers saw an unnecessary interference. What would you say

Let me ask you a counter question. Which decision of the government has hurt the interests of the shareholders including the minority shareholders Which decision of the government has hurt the interests of the institutions Which decision of the government has hurt the interests of the country I think these are the deciding factors, and not anything else. If any government decision has done any of these stated things, then the government is guilty, and I consider myself personally as the secretary of the department guilty. But when nothing of this has happened then I dont care what others are saying.

My job and the governments job is to see that each shareholders interests are protected, the institutions are protected and the countrys interests are protected. If that has been done, I think we have done our job correctly. I will also say that corporate governance is a very tough task, and nobody is able to find a solution to that puzzle as to what is the best corporate governance. We have examples of all kind of said corporate governance happening across the globe.