Bimal Jalan was the RBI governor from 1997 to 2003. Photo: HT
Bimal Jalan was the RBI governor from 1997 to 2003. Photo: HT

RBI reserves: Jalan panel may line up 3 trillion for transfer

  • As of September last, the excess capital with the central bank stood at 9.6 lakh crore
  • Halving of the contingency reserves to a level of 3.25 percent from the present 6.5% will release 1.282 lakh crore

MUMBAI : The Bimal Jalan committee on the appropriate capital reserves for the Reserve Bank is likely to identify an excess buffer of up to 3 lakh crore, according to a foreign brokerage.

This includes the excess capital in contingency reserves and also revaluation reserves, a report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch said Monday, amid reports that the panel is almost ready with its report.

As of September last, the excess capital with the central bank stood at 9.6 lakh crore.

"Our stress tests estimate RBI's excess capital at 1-3 lakh crore," the report said.

Halving of the contingency reserves to a level of 3.25 percent from the present 6.5 percent will release 1.282 lakh crore, the report said, pointing out that the level is still 50 percent higher than what central banks in the BRICS grouping have.

Similarly, halving the yield cover hike to 4.5 percent from the present 9 percent will release another 1.170 lakh crore, it said.

Capping the overall reserves at 20 percent level from the present 25.5 percent will release 1.96 lakh crore, it said, adding the level is higher than the 2004 Usha Thorat committee recommendation of 18 percent and 16 percent that the Economic Survey 2018 had pegged.

The report further noted that there is no restriction which prevents the RBI from transferring the money to the government.

The six-member panel headed by former RBI governor Jalan was set up following a widespread debate triggered by a government move last year to get a part of the RBI reserves transferred ahead of the elections.

Then governor Urjit Patel was against any such move, while other experts like former chief economic advisor Arvind Subramaniam, had advocated using the windfall for specific tasks like bank recapitalisation which will help the economy.

Using the excess money for bank recapitalisation will be liquidity neutral, the brokerage said, adding the Jalan report will also help ushering cuts in lending rates.

After Patel's sudden resignation over this and many other contentious issues, his successor Shaktikanta Das had formed the panel in consultation with the government and the panel was expected to submit its report by March end.

Das had on April 4 said the panel was in advanced stages of deliberations and would shortly submit its report.

Other members include former deputy governor of RBI Rakesh Mohan as the vice-chairman, finance secretary Subhash Chandra Garg, incumbent deputy governor NS Vishwanathan, and two RBI central board members--Bharat Doshi and Sudhir Mankad.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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