RCEP: Offer not up to aspirations, says FM Nirmala Sitharaman

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November 24, 2019 12:20 AM

On non-performing assets (NPAs), she said they multiplied between 2007-08 and 2013 and had become a burden on the banks' books.

Nirmala Sitharaman (PTI Image)Nirmala Sitharaman (PTI Image)

India did not join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as the offer was not as much as our aspirations, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Saturday.

The government was making efforts to ensure more regulatory mechanism in the banking sector to benefit bank account holders, she said in the context of the PMC Bank and IL&FS issues. On the PMC Bank scam, Sitharaman said the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has started making sure there are steps taken within the institution that would strengthen the supervisory and regulatory roles.

“And together with that, any legislative changes or amendments that I have to make so that RBI gets a bit more empowered to its job — it is something all of us are talking about as such measures are required to make sure the markets are better regulated, banks better regulated,” she said. Anomalies allowing the institutions to take ‘liberty’ were all being corrected so that regulators can perform better and ensure the bank account holders have a greater sense of what is happening, Sitharaman said.

On non-performing assets (NPAs), she said they multiplied between 2007-08 and 2013 and had become a burden on the banks’ books. However, banks had taken corrective action and most of them are out of it, she said. “As a result banks are also going through a churn of how to assess their risk and how to rate property or asset. And in this we had even discussions with credit agencies on how to really rate assets,” she said. Sitharaman said she has met with a few of these credit agencies to understand if the way in which they rate was consistent with what is happening in the economy.

On the automobile sector, she said she was ‘pilloried’ earlier for making some remarks on vehicle sales, apparently referring to her statement on millennials using cab aggregator services as a reason for the slowdown. “Irrespective of that debate, a decision of the Supreme Court keeping in mind climate change and pollution, giving us a two-year window, tells you to move from one level of emission standard to another,” she said.

The NDA government was ‘receptive’ to issues faced by the Indian businesses, she said, and referred to the Centre announcing corporate tax cuts “between budgets” to buttress her claim. “We could work between two budgets in coming up with major structural reforms in reducing corporate tax,” she said. Such a measure was taken because Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said the government has to respond in time so that the country realises that there is a government which wants to carry out reforms, she added.

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