VITALINFO: RBI's independence under threat, says former Chief...

VITALINFO: RBI's independence under threat, says former Chief...: Grace Koshie says proposed changes could give the government greater involvement in the Reserve Bank of India’s operational areas; warns o...

RBI's independence under threat, says former Chief General Manager

Grace Koshie says proposed changes could give the government greater involvement in the Reserve Bank of India’s operational areas; warns other central banks' legal independence is being ‘altered’...
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is the latest in a string of central banks whose legal independence is under threat from proposed or actual changes to its mandate, according to a forthcoming piece in theCentral Banking Journal.
Grace Koshie, a former Chief General Manager and Secretary to the board at the RBI, says de jure independence is a "necessary" condition for independence as a whole, and warns that governments may be impinging upon it in a host of countries across the globe.
In India, the government created the Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission to "clean up" the country's financial sector legislation. The commission's proposals would, if adopted, remove the RBI's responsibility for financial stability.
While the central bank would retain its role as India's monetary authority and regulator for the banking and payment systems, the government would designate a new "unified" regulator for the rest of the financial sector. The Financial Stability and Development Council, chaired by India's finance minister, would fill this role.
Moreover, Koshie notes, the commission has proposed that each of the present financial regulators are audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General. Koshie warns this "opens the door" for the governmental body to "look into" the RBI's operational areas.
In her article, Has the crisis dented central bank independence?, published tomorrow, Koshie points to three other central banks whose legal independence is "likely to altered" by recent or forthcoming amendments to their national central bank law.
The Cypriot government is in the process of expanding the Central Bank of Cyprus' board membership to include an additional two non-executive directors. This will tip the balance of power away from the governor and central bank staff.
Koshie believes this change will "seriously undermine the autonomy of the central bank management under the governor" and "increase the role of the government/board in internal staff matters".
She also refers to the Bank of Slovenia where, in August 2012, a string of senior staff members resigned in the wake of changes to legislation governing the central bank. Koshie notes that the government was criticised by both the International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank for its decision.
Moreover, in the US, there are repeated attempts from a group of Republican senators to introduce a bill dubbed 'Audit the Fed'. Rand Paul, a senator from Kentucky, has threatened to hold up the appointment of Janet Yellen as the next Fed chair in an attempt to force a vote on the bill.
Koshie acknowledges that if central banks are to retain their independence, they must adapt to the post-crisis environment. This means correcting their flawed models and perceptions.
"Central banks are back at school, filling up gaps in their knowledge and understanding of complex markets, players and products," she says. "As knowledge institutions, their claims to independence as regulators will depend on their ability to stay up the learning curve."
Koshie outlined a range of initiatives the RBI has taken to enhance its credibility and "stake claim for greater operation independence". These include strengthening its internal research, communicating more proactively with the general public and conducting outreach activities to expose staff to more 'real-world' issues.

Note: This article by Grace Koshie gives hope that we still have members from RBI Family who will speak out in public to protect the prestige of RBI. Will post the text of the article(published version) here, as soon as I get it.

M G Warrier


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