Millennium Post

RBI voices concern over rising credit to realty, infra sectors

As an alternative, the deputy governor suggested looking at corporate bonds market, which is being encouraged by both the central bank and the government. 'Together, the real estate and infrastructure sectors account for 25 per cent of the total credit exposure. We are very much concerned about further exposure by banks into this segment,' Gandhi said while addressing a capital markets summit, organised by industry lobby Ficci here.

'Banks cannot put all eggs into one basket. When they have already reached 25 per cent, naturally they will have hesitation to increase it further. One cannot overexpose to one segment or sector,' he told reporters later.

Gandhi said that Reserve Bank considers real estate as a 'sensitive' sector because of asset bubble fears. He said housing credit has grown from Rs 2.60 trillion (Rs 2.60 lakh crore) in financial year 200708 to Rs 5.40 trillion in FY14, while the same to commercial realty has grown from Rs 60,000 crore to Rs 1.54 trillion during the same period. For the infrastructure space, the same has grown from Rs 2.06 trillion in FY08 to Rs 8.40 trillion at the end of FY14, constituting about 15 per cent of the system.

'In terms of proportionate allocation, to expect banking system to be supporting these two sectors much beyond this would be a bit tall. That is why we need to be looking at sources beyond the banking sector,' he said, adding, corporate bonds would be a good alternative which the banks can look at.

It can be noted that due to issues like the asset liability mismatches, RBI and policymakers have for long been trying to push alternatives like the corporate bonds to raise long-term funds. Steps to allow banks to issue long-term bonds in July this year were a part of the same design. But so far corporate bond market could not make a mark in the market primarily due to dominance of the government bond market.

Meanwhile, Gandhi said the RBI will be coming out with a discussion paper on group exposure limits by banks in November or December. He also said banks have requested for an extension for the practice of restructuring beyond 2015 and the central bank is examining the same.

Gandhi said the Reserve Bank will be coming out with final guidelines for small banks and payments by end-November and with draft guidelines on 'on-tap' licensing after that.
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