“The report is not finalised yet. More meetings will take place. The panel is expected to finalise its report by May-June,” Jalan said on Wednesday after a meeting of the committee.
Former governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Bimal Jalan said on Wednesday the panel headed by him to determine the appropriate capital reserves with the central bank will submit its report by May-June. The six-member panel, which was appointed on December 26, 2018 to review the Economic Capital Framework (ECF) for the RBI and held its first meeting on January 8, has also got an extension, according to Jalan. Earlier, the panel was supposed to submit the report in 90 days from holding of its first meeting.
“The report is not finalised yet. More meetings will take place. The panel is expected to finalise its report by May-June,” Jalan said on Wednesday after a meeting of the committee. The ECF, which determines the central bank’s surplus transfer to the government, was one of the contentious issues in the much-hyped tussle late last year between the finance ministry and former RBI governor Urjit Patel. During Patel’s tenure, the RBI’s surplus transfer (as % of its net disposable income) dropped to 70-78%, against 100% during Raghuram Rajan’s period.
A report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch said this week that the Jalan committee could identify an excess buffer of up to Rs 3 lakh crore (or roughly 1.5% of the GDP), including the excess capital in contingency reserves and revaluation reserves.
Halving of the contingency reserves of the RBI to a level of 3.25% from 6.5% at present will release Rs 1.28 lakh crore, the report said while stressing that the level would still be 50% higher than what central banks of the BRICS nations have. Similarly, halving the yield cover hike to 4.5% from the current 9% will release another Rs 1.17 lakh crore, it added.
In February, the RBI decided to offer an interim dividend of Rs 28,000 crore to the Centre, driving up its total transfer in the last fiscal to Rs 68,000 crore, as estimated by the interim Budget. The elevated transfer now under new governor Shaktikanta Das seems like a departure from the RBI’s policy during the Patel era. In 2017-18, the RBI had transferred Rs 40,659 crore (including an interim dividend of Rs 10,000 crore in March 2018).
Last year, the finance ministry was of the view that the buffer of 28% of gross assets maintained by the central bank was much higher than the global practice of around 14%. Following this, the RBI central board, in its meeting on November 19, 2018, had decided to set up a panel to examine the ECF.
The other members of the Jalan committee are Rakesh Mohan, former deputy governor of the RBI as the vice-chairman; finance secretary Subhash Chandra Garg; RBI deputy governor NS Vishwanathan; and two RBI central board members – Bharat Doshi and Sudhir Mankad.
The panel has been tasked with reviewing best practices followed by central banks across the globe in making assessment and provisions for risks. The panel will propose a suitable profit distribution policy, factoring in all likely scenarios.
In the past, the issue of the ideal size of the RBI reserves was examined by three committees – V Subrahmanyam in 1997, Usha Thorat in 2004 and YH Malegam in 2013.