RBI governor Urjit Patel steers clear of questions on tension with govt, Viral Acharya’s speech

By: | Updated: December 5, 2018 5:55 PM

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) monetary policy decision on Wednesday was supposed to be a sideshow; what many of the market watchers were hoping to witness was what governor Urjit Patel had to say about the recent tension with the government.

The tension between the RBI and the Narendra Modi government became obvious when Viral Acharya, in a hard-hitting speech, warned that the governments that do not respect central bank's autonomy invite the wrath of the market.The tension between the RBI and the Narendra Modi government became obvious when Viral Acharya, in a hard-hitting speech, warned that the governments that do not respect central bank’s autonomy invite the wrath of the market.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) monetary policy decision on Wednesday was supposed to be a sideshow; what many of the market watchers were hoping to witness was what governor Urjit Patel had to say about the recent tension with the government.

As the customary press conference after the monetary policy review meeting was the first official interaction of Urjit Patel with the media since the rift with the government came to light, reporters asked a couple question including whether the governor agreed with his deputy Viral Acharya’s famous ‘wrath of the market’ speech.

However, Urjit Patel steered clear of the questions. “I already said that I would avoid those questions. We are here discussing the monetary policy committee resolution,” Urjit Patel told reporters.

The tension between the RBI and the Narendra Modi government became evident when Viral Acharya, in a hard-hitting speech, warned that the governments that do not respect central bank’s autonomy invite the wrath of the market.

Also Read – RBI Monetary Policy HIGHLIGHTS: RBI holds fire for now but signals rate cut in future

In days to follow, media was abuzz with the news of the government invoking never-used special powers under Section 7 of the RBI Act and speculations of Urjit Patel resigning. From capital reserves to strict Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) Norms for weak banks, there were many contentious issues between the RBI and the government.

Later on November 19, in the meeting of the RBI board, the central bank agreed to make some room to adjust the demands and needs of the government. In the meeting, which lasted for nearly nine hours, the RBI board decided to constitute an expert committee to examine the Economic Capital Framework and also advised the central bank to consider loan-restructuring Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

Also Read – RBI strikes ‘cordial note’; discusses easing liquidity, MSME credit in high profile board meet

Giving huge relief to banks, the board, while deciding to retain the Capital to Risk (Weighted) Assets Ratio (CRAR) at 9%, agreed to extend the transition period for implementing the last tranche of 0.625% under the Capital Conservation Buffer (CCB), by one year until March 2020. The next board meeting of the RBI is expected on December 12.

Meanwhile, in the policy review, the RBI decided to keep both repo rate and stance unchanged. The repo rate was reiterated at 6.5% and stance calibrated tightening. The RBI governor, however, signalled the possibility of rate cut if inflation risks did not materialise in future.

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