RBI reserves: Jalan panel to submit report in June

A high-level panel, chaired by former governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Bimal Jalan to determine the appropriate capital reserves with the central bank, will submit its report in June, a source said on Monday.

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, met again on Monday.

The panel will submit its report with the RBI but before that, it will likely to meet one last time next month, a source said. Initially, the panel was supposed to submit the report in 90 days from the holding of its first meeting, before getting an extension of its term.

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 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 the current 6.5% 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 members 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).

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