RBI Monetary Policy: Finally, focus on "National Balance Sheet"
The Hindu, April 7, 2017
Growth, with caveats
“The RBI is quite optimistic about an uptick in the economy this year, projecting 7.4% growth in Gross Value-Added, compared to 6.7% in 2016-17. Along with improved prospects for the world economy a rebound in discretionary consumer spending at home is likely, in line with the “pace of remonetisation” and investment demand on account of lowered interest rates. While the government may take heart from the higher growth projection, it must pay equal heed to Mr. Patel’s plainspeak on four key issues. First, the need to urgently resolve the surge of bad loans on bank books, for which the RBI will unveil a new Prompt Corrective Action framework by the middle of this month. Without this, a virtuous cycle of healthy credit growth necessary for investment and job creation will remain elusive. Second, the RBI has reminded the government there will be “clearly more demand for capital” in the coming days. The government’s allocation of Rs.10,000 crore to recapitalise public sector banks is obviously inadequate. Third, while banks have reduced lending rates, the RBI has pointed out there is room for more cuts if rates on small savings schemes are corrected. Though a formula-based rate was adopted to set these rates last April, small savings schemes still deliver 61-95 basis points higher returns than what they should if the formula is followed, as per the RBI. Most important, the government must not ignore Mr Patel’s categorical call to eschew loan waivers of the kind just announced in Uttar Pradesh. This, he warned, would crowd out private investments and dent the nation’s balance sheet.”