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RBI is accountable, government runs country: Shaktikanta Das

On the issue of RBI’s reserves, he said a committee to examine it would be constituted shortly and then with the appointment of its Chairman, the terms of reference of the committee would be drawn with fixed timelines.

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Shaktikanta Das

Mumbai, Dec 12 : Declaring that he will uphold the “autonomy, integrity and credibility” of the RBI, newly-appointed Governor Shaktikanta Das said on Wednesday that the government is responsible for running the country and the central bank is also accountable.

Briefing reporters here after taking charge as the 25th Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Das said that consultations with stakeholders have become fundamental to the central bank’s functioning in view of the complexity of modern day decision-making, and as part of this process he would meet the heads of the Mumbai-based state-run banks on Thursday.

Meetings with public sector banks outside Mumbai would follow “after some days”, he added.

“The RBI is a great institution and I will try my best to uphold its autonomy, identity and values. The autonomy, integrity and credibility is very important for this great institution and it will remain intact,” he assured.

In response to queries on the recent government-RBI tiff culminating in the resignation of Urjit Patel as Governor, Das refused to go into contentious issues.

“I do not like to go into whatever the issues or what are the issues between government which runs the country and the RBI, but every institution has to have its professional integrity, maintain its professional autonomy. At the same time, every institution also must adhere to the principles of accountability,” he said.

“Government is not just a stakeholder but I mean the government of the day runs the economy, runs the country and manages major policy decisions.

“There has to be a free, fair, objective and very frank discussion between the government and the RBI. And, I believe that all issues, however contentious, can be resolved through discussions,” he added.

Das, who holds post graduation degree in history from the Delhi University, unlike his predecessors Urjit Patel and Raghuram Rajan, who were economists of repute, said the RBI board meeting would be held on Friday (December 14) as scheduled.

“We will hold the central board meeting as planned on December 14 and go through the agenda and discuss the various issues that are listed,” he said.

Das took charge as the RBI Governor a day after Urjit Patel resigned amidst a tiff with the Central government on the issue of RBI’s autonomy. Das had steered the monetary situation post-demonetisation as the Economic Affairs Secretary.

On the issue of RBI’s reserves, he said a committee to examine it would be constituted shortly and then with the appointment of its Chairman, the terms of reference of the committee would be drawn with fixed timelines.

Das said he does not want to discuss individual issues as he intends to settle down first and study the issues before taking any decision. On capital requirement in the economy, he said he is open to discussing all issues within the ambit of RBI.

“After the amendment of the RBI Act, the inflation targeting continues to be very important and it’s very heartening to note that inflation broadly is as per the targets and inflation outlook also looks fairly benign at this stage, but we have to be very watchful of the developments,” he said.

Health of public sector banks, liquidity issue and maintenance of growth trajectory of Indian economy are some of the important issues for which he would interact with stakeholders and get an internal feedback before taking a view on these, he said.

Unlike his immediate predecessor Patel, who the government officials alleged had little stakeholder consultations, Das said consultation with all stakeholders always adds value to understanding and his top priority is the banking sector.

“To begin with, I have convened a meeting with the MDs and CEOs of the public sector banks based in Mumbai tomorrow. Banking is an important segment of our economy and is currently facing several challenges which are of critical importance and they need to be dealt with.”

He will follow it up with similar consultations with the state-run banks from outside Mumbai and still later with the chiefs of private sector banks to understand the issues relating to them.

“This is a general consultation. There is no fixed agenda,” he said denying that RBI’s Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework, a measure to check banks’ financial health, would be discussed. Currently, 11 out of 21 public sector banks are barred from lending.

Looking forward to working with the officers and staff of the RBI, Das said he always found RBI officers possessing inherent core competence and professionalism to deal with any technical issue.

“I will work as a team with other officials here (RBI) in the best interest of the economy,” he said. Das is a retired 1980-batch IAS officer from Tamil Nadu cadre.

Immediately prior to his current assignment, Das was acting as 15th Finance Commission member and G-20 Sherpa of India. In last 38 years, Das held important positions in Central and state governments in areas of finance, taxation, industries and infrastructure.

IANS

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Markets open on positive note

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Sensex Nifty Equity

Mumbai, Feb 20: The 30-scrip Sensitive Index (Sensex) on Wednesday opened on a positive note during the morning session of the trade.

The BSE Sensex opened at 35,564.93 before touching a high of 35,581.14 and a low of 35,520.21.

It was trading at 35,528.69 up by 176.08 points or 0.50 per cent from its Tuesday’s close at 35,352.61.

On the other hand, the broader 50-scrip Nifty at the National Stock Exchange (NSE) opened at 10,655.45 after closing at 10,604.35.

The Nifty is trading at 10,656.25 in the morning.

IANS

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PF funds’ investment in IL&FS bonds have no government guarantee: Finance Ministry

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IL&FS Financial Service

New Delhi, Feb 19 (IANS) The provident and pension fund trusts that invested in the IL&FS bonds now fear loss of money as the debt-ridden company’s bonds are unsecured debt, and the Finance Ministry says superannuated bonds do not carry any government guarantee and all such instruments have to face all market-related risks.

“Since these are investments in bonds, the government does not ensure any guarantee on them as such and if these are invested in stock markets, they carry the market risks as applicable. It is between the bond issuer and bond holders…,” the Finance Ministry said in response to IANS queries.

Thousands of crores of money of more than 15 lakh employees of both public and private sector companies have exposure to IL&FS bonds.

However, queries sent to the EPFO Commissioner and Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar remained unanswered.

Over 50 funds that manage retirement benefits of over 15 lakh employees have exposure to IL&FS. PF trusts of state electricity boards, public sector undertakings (PSUs) and banks are among them. The provident and pension fund trusts have filed intervening applications in the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) stating that they stand to lose all the money since the bonds are under unsecured debt.

Usually, retirement funds have a low-risk appetite and invest in “AAA” rated bonds (which IL&FS bonds used to be once upon a time) and get assured returns with low interest rates.

The worries of pension and provident fund trusts come from the classification of IL&FS profiling its companies as to which can meet the dues obligations. Many important trust managing funds of PSUs like MMTC, IOC, Hudco, SBI and IDBI are among those filing petitions. From private sector, HUL and Asian Paints are among the petitioners.

IL&FS is currently under resolution process at the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). The process will decide under Section 53 of the IBC the order of priority for distribution of proceeds of the process.

The beleaguered company has informed the NCLT that of the 302 entities in the group, 169 are Indian companies, out of which only 22 are emerging as those which can meet all obligations (green), while 10 firms can pay to only secured creditors (Amber). There are 38 companies of IL&FS (red) which cannot meet any obligations of payment, and 120 entities are still being assessed.

These PF and provident funds trusts are worried that if payment is limited to secured creditors, then only financial creditors like banks will receive the dues while unsecured bond-holders will be get any payments.

IL&FS bonds attracted investments by PF trusts as it had the shareholding of SBI and LIC giving its bonds the comfort factor.

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Sachin Bansal invests Rs 650 crore in Ola

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Bengaluru, Feb 19 (IANS) Internet entrepreneur and Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal has invested Rs 650 crore, or about $92 million, in ride-hailing platform Ola in his personal capacity as investor, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

This investment is part of Ola’s larger Series J funding round. It is also the largest investment by an individual in Ola to date, it said.

“Ola is one of India’s most promising consumer businesses that is creating deep impact and lasting value for the ecosystem. On one hand, they have emerged as a global force in the mobility space and on the other, they continue to build deeper for various needs of a billion Indians through their platform, becoming a trusted household name today,” Bansal said.

He further said he has known Ola founder Bhavish Aggarwal as entrepreneur and friend over the years and that he has great respect for what he and the team at Ola have built in 8 years.

“We are extremely thrilled to have Sachin onboard Ola as an investor. Sachin is an icon of entrepreneurship and his experience of building one of India’s most respected businesses ground up, is unparalleled,” Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal said.

Ola integrates city transportation for customers and drivers onto a mobile technology platform ensuring convenient, transparent, safe and quick service fulfilment, the statement added.

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