On the basis of an assessment of the current and evolving macroeconomic situation, it has been decided to:
Consequently, the reverse repo rate under the LAF stands adjusted to 5.75 per cent, and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the Bank Rate to 7.75 per cent.
This part of the Statement reviews the Reserve Bank’s measures to strengthen the monetary policy framework, make banking structure and practices more efficient, broaden and deepen financial markets, deal with stress in corporate and financial assets, and extend the reach of financial services to all.
I. Monetary Policy Framework
19. Discussions on monetary policy and its institutional and operating framework are set out in Part A of this Statement and the Monetary Policy Report issued along with this Statement.
II. Banking Structure
20. The Reserve Bank has put out for comment draft guidelines for banks on the computation of base rate, based on their marginal cost of funds. Guidelines will be issued by end-November 2015.
21. In March 2015, the Reserve Bank issued a Discussion Paper titled “Large Exposures Framework and Enhancing Credit Supply through Market Mechanism” for stakeholders’ comments. The Discussion Paper focused on the need to encourage alternative sources of funding to bank credit for the corporate sector to finance growth. This would also de-risk the balance sheets of banks. Specifically, the paper proposed ways to encourage large corporates with borrowings from the banking system above a cut-off level to tap the market for their working capital and term loan needs. Based on suggestions received from stakeholders, the Reserve Bank will issue a draft circular by end-December 2015.
22. As a part of its supervisory process, the Reserve Bank assesses compliance by banks with extant prudential norms on income recognition, asset classification and provisioning (IRACP). There have been divergences between banks and the supervisor as regards asset classification and provisioning. In order to bring in greater transparency, better discipline with respect to compliance with IRACP norms as well as to involve other stakeholders, the Reserve Bank will mandate disclosures in the notes to accounts to the financial statements of banks where such divergences exceed a specified threshold. Instructions in this regard are being issued separately.
23. The Union Budget for 2014-15 emphasised the urgent need for convergence of the current Indian accounting standards (IND AS) with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). The Reserve Bank has recommended to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs a roadmap for the implementation of IND AS by banks and non-banking financial companies from 2018-19 onwards. The Reserve Bank constituted a Working Group (Chairman: Shri Sudarshan Sen) for its implementation. The Report of the Working Group will be placed on the Reserve Bank’s website by end-October 2015 for public comments.
24. At present, the minimum risk weight applicable on individual housing loans is 50 per cent. With a view to improving “affordability of low cost housing” for economically weaker sections and low income groups and giving a fillip to “Housing for All”, while being cognisant of prudential concerns, it is proposed to reduce the risk weights applicable to lower value but well collateralised individual housing loans. Detailed guidelines are being issued separately.
25. Banks are permitted to hold investments under the HTM category in excess of the limit of 25 per cent of their total investments, provided the excess comprises only SLR securities and the total SLR securities held under the HTM category are not more than 22 per cent of NDTL. The SLR has been reduced to 21.50 per cent of NDTL with effect from February 7, 2015. To align them, it has been decided to bring down the ceiling on SLR securities under HTM from 22 per cent to 21.50 per cent with effect from the fortnight beginning January 9, 2016. Thereafter, both the SLR and the HTM ceiling will be brought down by 0.25 per cent every quarter till March 31, 2017.
26. The Depositor Education and Awareness Fund Scheme, 2014 has been established by transfer of bank deposits and other credit balances that have remained unclaimed for more than 10 years. It envisages grant of financial assistance to applicants selected on the basis of proposals intended to promote depositors’ interests. In response to the press release issued on January 9, 2015, the Reserve Bank received 90 applications for financial assistance. The names of successful applicants will be announced by October 1, 2015. The window for inviting applications for availing financial assistance from the fund shall be re-opened.
27. The report of the High Powered Committee (HPC) on UCBs (Chairman: Shri R. Gandhi) to examine and recommend permissible business lines, appropriate size, conversion of UCBs into commercial banks and licensing of new UCBs was placed on the Reserve Bank’s website on August 20, 2015 for comments and suggestions. Based on the feedback received, the recommendations of the Committee will be considered for implementation during the second half of 2015-16.
28. Cyber security has assumed critical importance across the globe. With the widespread use of new technologies, inter-connectedness and dependency, newer risks, threats and vulnerabilities have emerged. The Reserve Bank is setting up an information technology (IT) subsidiary to assist in monitoring the preparedness of banks and identifying systemic vulnerabilities along with aiding the Reserve Bank in its own cyber initiatives.
29. The Reserve Bank will update all its master regulations, and streamline the required procedure for compliance with the regulations by January 1, 2016. All master regulations will be fully updated and placed online. The Reserve Bank will also work to improve clarity in regulatory communications.
III. Financial Markets
30. With the objective of having a more predictable regime for investment by the foreign portfolio investors (FPI), the medium term framework (MTF) for FPI limits in debt securities, worked out in consultation with the government, is set out below.
(i) The limits for FPI investment in debt securities will henceforth be announced/ fixed in rupee terms.
(ii) The limits for FPI investment in the central government securities will be increased in phases to 5 per cent of the outstanding stock by March 2018. In aggregate terms, this is expected to open up room for additional investment of ₹1,200 billion in the limit for central government securities by March 2018 over and above the existing limit of ₹1,535 billion for all government securities (G-sec).
(iii) Additionally, there will be a separate limit for investment by FPIs in the State Development Loans (SDLs), to be increased in phases to reach 2 per cent of the outstanding stock by March 2018. This would amount to an additional limit of about ₹500 billion by March 2018.
(iv) The increase in limits will be announced every half year in March and September and released every quarter.
(v) The existing requirement of investments being made in G-sec (including SDLs) with a minimum residual maturity of three years will continue to apply.
(vi) Limits for the residual period of the current financial year would be increased in two tranches from October 12, 2015 and January 1, 2016. Each tranche would entail an increase in limits as under:
₹ 130 billion for central government securities composed of ₹ 75 billion for long term investors and ₹ 55 billion for others
₹ 35 billion for SDL open to all FPI investors.
A circular with details of the MTF is being issued separately.
31. In the first bi-monthly monetary policy statement for 2015-16, announced on April 07, 2015, it was proposed to permit Indian corporates that are eligible to raise external commercial borrowings (ECB) to issue rupee bonds in overseas centres with an appropriate regulatory framework. Based on the comments received on the draft framework and in consultation with the Government, it has been decided to permit Indian corporates to issue rupee denominated bonds with a minimum maturity of five years at overseas locations within the ceiling of foreign investment permitted in corporate debt (US$ 51 billion at present). There shall be no restriction on the end use of funds except a small negative list. Detailed instructions are being issued separately.
32. The Reserve Bank has placed the draft framework on ECB on its website on September 23, 2015 for comments/ feedback. The revised framework suiting the current economic and business environment will replace the extant ECB policy.
33. Scheduled commercial banks and primary dealers (PDs) are currently permitted to execute the sale leg of short sale transactions in the over the counter (OTC) market in addition to the Negotiated Dealing System–Order Matching (NDS-OM) platform. Short sale in the OTC market is, however, not permitted between the primary member (PM) and its gilt account holder (GAH). The Clearing Corporation of India Ltd. (CClL) has introduced a facility in the reported segment of NDS-OM which captures details of transactions involving gilt accounts. Accordingly, it is proposed to permit short sale by a PM to its GAH and also to treat purchase by a PM from its GAH as a cover transaction. Guidelines in this regard will be issued by end-October 2015.
34. There has been significant improvement in market infrastructure in the inter-bank repo market in G-sec. This enables Reserve Bank to review restrictions placed on repo transactions, particularly relating to the participation of gilt account holders in the repo market, guided by the recommendations of the Working Group on Enhancing Liquidity in the Government Securities and Interest Rate Derivatives Markets (Chairman: Shri R. Gandhi). New guidelines in this regard will be issued by end- November 2015.
35. When Issued (WI) trading in G-sec was permitted in 2006 to facilitate the distribution process by stretching the actual distribution period for each issue and allowing the market more time to absorb large issues without disruption. In order to encourage trading in the WI market, it is proposed to:
(i) permit the scheduled commercial banks to take short positions in the WI market for both new and reissued securities, subject to limits and other conditions in place from time to time; and
(ii) permit regulated entities other than banks and primary dealers (PDs) to take long positions in the WI market.
Detailed guidelines in this regard will be issued by end-November 2015.
36. Guidelines on repo in corporate debt were issued in January 2010. In order to further develop the repo market, a broad framework for introduction of electronic dealing platform/s for repo in corporate bonds will be designed in consultation with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).
37. While the currency futures market has grown, participation in this segment has been restricted to a few categories of entities. In order to diversify the participation profile in the currency futures market, stand-alone PDs will be permitted to deal in currency futures contracts traded on the recognised exchanges, subject to adherence to certain risk control measures and without diluting their existing obligations in the G-sec market. Guidelines in this regard will be issued by end-November 2015.
38. At present, exchange traded currency derivatives include futures and options in four currency pairs viz., USD-INR, EUR-INR, GBP-INR and JPY-INR. With a view to enabling direct hedging of exposures in foreign currencies and to permit execution of cross-currency strategies by market participants, exchange traded currency futures and options will be introduced in three cross-currency pairs viz., EUR-USD, GBP-USD and USD-JPY. Necessary guidelines will be issued in consultation with SEBI by end-November 2015.
39. Establishing underlying exposure through verifiable documentary evidence has been a key regulatory requirement for accessing OTC forex markets. To provide more flexibility to market participants in managing their currency risk in the OTC market and for making hedging easier, it has been decided to increase the limit for resident entities for hedging their foreign exchange exposure in the OTC market from US$ 250,000 to US$ one million without the production of any underlying documents, subject to submission of a simple declaration. It is further proposed to comprehensively review the documentation related requirements in the OTC market. The possibility of participation by financially sophisticated investors up to certain limits in currency markets without underlying exposure will also be examined. Revised draft of the existing framework will be issued for public comments by end-December 2015.
IV. Currency Management
40. With growing financial inclusion, there are concerted efforts to enhance the use of technology and move towards a “less-cash” society. In order to promote electronic payments and use of cards for transactions, the Reserve Bank will put in the public domain a concept paper for proliferation of card acceptance infrastructure in the country, especially in the tier III to tier VI centres, by end-November 2015.
41. The Reserve Bank has issued ₹100, ₹500 and ₹1000 denomination banknotes in the Mahatma Gandhi Series–2005 with a new numbering pattern with ascending order of the size of the numbers from left to right. This is being introduced in a phased manner for all denominations of banknotes.
42. With a view to making identification of banknotes easier for visually challenged persons, the process for introduction of additional identification marks in banknotes in the form of angular bleed lines has been initiated and is being introduced in the denominations of ₹100, ₹ 500 and ₹ 1000 as raised lines on both the left and right sides of the obverse of the banknote: 4 lines in ₹ 100, 5 lines in ₹ 500 and 6 lines in ₹1000. Furthermore, the size of the existing identification mark in these denominations is also being increased by 50 per cent to facilitate better identification.