Millennium Post

Ease PCA, one-day default norms, PSB heads tell new governor Das

Mumbai: Newly-appointed Reserve Bank governor Shaktikanta Das Thursday met with the heads of public sector banks who sought some relaxations in the prompt corrective action (PCA) framework and the one-day default norms announced by the RBI in its February 12 circular.

The meeting took place a day ahead of the crucial meeting of the central board of RBI here, which will take up a host of contentious issues, including the PCA norms.

Das, along with his four deputy governors, discussed various issues being faced by the banks, including that on liquidity situation, and also deliberated on the crisis in the non-bank lenders space.

The lenders who attended the meeting included State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, IDBI Bank, Union Bank of India, Central Bank of India and Dena Bank, among others.

"We have requested the governor to ease the PCA norms, which we will feel are very stringent," said a banker.

Of the 21 state-owned banks, as many as 11 are under the PCA framework, which imposes lending and other restrictions on weak lenders. These lenders collectively control around a fifth of the credit and deposits in the system, thus crimping credit flow to the industry-- something a poll-bound government is keen to resolve.

The banks under the PCA are Allahabad Bank, United Bank of India, Corporation Bank, IDBI Bank, Uco Bank, Bank of India, Central Bank of India, Indian Overseas Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Dena Bank, and Bank of Maharashtra.

The bankers also sought some easing in the one-day default norm announced in the February 12 RBI circular, said another banker.

The meeting between the RBI and banks lasted for nearly an hour.

"The basic purpose of the meeting was to create a dialogue between the regulator and bankers. There were some general deliberations," Punjab National Bank managing director Sunil Mehta said without offering details.

On Friday, the RBI board will discuss issues relating to transfer of RBI's surplus funds to the government, and relaxation in PCA framework.

The government, which is facing cash-crunch ahead of the elections and already drawn down almost 104 percent of the budgeted borrowing, wants at least a third of the Rs 9.6 trillion cash reserves that the central bank sits on and the RBI is not ready to part with any.

Following the tiff between the two, which was one of the key issues in the past few months, the two at the November 19 central board meeting had agreed to set up a committee to to determine the appropriate levels of reserves the central bank ought to hold.

But North Block and the Mint Street mandarins are having differences over who will head the panel. While government is reportedly keen on making ex-governor Bimal Jalan, who broadly supports the idea, RBI wants its ex-deputy Rakesh Mohan to chair the panel which is yet to be formed.

All these finally forced the past incumbent Urjit Patel to announce his departure from the office this Monday, leaving everyone surprised.

The last board has reportedly decided to refer the issue of relaxing prompt corrective action (PCA) framework for weak banks to the Board of Financial Supervision (BFS) of RBI.

It also decided on a slew of measures including a restructuring scheme for MSMEs with credit facilities of up to Rs 25 crore and giving banks some concession on capital adequacy norms.

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