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RBI governor asks banks not to let down their guard


MUMBAI: RBI governor Shaktikanta Das on Tuesday met with bank chiefs and asked them to remain vigilant to any emerging signs of vulnerabilities and take timely remedial measures to mitigate the risks. Even as Das acknowledged the resilience of the banking sector, the central bank sought to beef up pre-emptive action against weak banks by reworking its prompt corrective action (PCA) norms to enable supervisory intervention at the right time and use of lending restrictions as a tool for market discipline. The note of caution comes at a time when there is increased optimism in respect of the economy even as pandemic-related stress continues to be felt in some sectors. Bankers have started talking of recovery even as several countries in the world are going through a third phase of lockdowns. Das on Monday held separate meetings with the MDs and CEOs of public sector banks and some private banks through videoconferencing. He advised banks to take timely remedial measures to mitigate the risks and maintain the stability of not only the institutions themselves but also of the overall financial system. Several other matters, including credit flows, especially to micro and small enterprises, were also discussed during the meetings. Das sought feedback from bank chiefs on the outlook for stressed assets and measures for mitigation, pricing of risks and the collection efficiencies experienced by banks. He also asked banks about their engagement with fintech entities. This was the first meeting with banks after Das was granted a fresh three-year term by the government last week. The meeting was attended by RBI’s deputy governors M K Jain, M Rajeshwar Rao and T Rabi Sankar. The new norms for PCA come after most weak banks have exited the lending restrictions imposed by the central bank under its earlier framework for early corrective action. A record number of 11 banks were placed under PCA after banks saw a surge in bad loans following RBI’s asset quality review in 2016. “The PCA framework does not preclude the RBI from taking any other action as it deems fit at any time, in addition to the corrective actions prescribed in the framework,” RBI said. Bankers said that in the past banks were placed under PCA based on their audited financial results and now the indications are that the RBI might impose the restrictions if it feels that they are required based on its supervision. On Tuesday, RBI deputy governor Jain said that the central bank was also focusing on governance reforms. He said that banks need to put in place governance standards to be worthy of public trust. “Being highly leveraged entities and with the interconnectedness, there must be a separation between ownership and management, so that they operate on professional lines,” he said.


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