RBI to follow calibrated unwinding of emergency measures post-COVID, says Governor

RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das (file image)

Reserve Bank of India will not unwind all recent measures taken to shore up the economy amid COVID-19 pandemic and act when the situation arises, Governor Shaktikanta Das said on Thursday.

“We have not exhausted our ammunition and instruments — whether on rate cuts or other policy actions. As and when the situation arises, the RBI will act accordingly,” he said at an event organised by a financial daily newspaper. “While the moratorium on loans was a temporary solution in the context of the lockdown, the resolution framework is expected to give durable relief to borrowers facing COVID-related stress,” he said.

“Post containment of COVID-19, a very careful trajectory needs to be followed for an orderly unwinding of the various counter-cyclical measures taken by the RBI and the financial sector should return to normal functioning without relying on the regulatory relaxations and other measures as the new norm.”

Das said the measures taken by RBI are intended to deal with the specific situation of COVID-19 and cannot be permanent.

Das said that while green shoots are emerging and businesses are getting back to normalcy, it is hard to measure the impact of COVID-19 on the economy. The RBI has taken various steps like interest rate cuts and a moratorium on debt servicing. But there has to be a calibrated, cautious exit plan for the long-term, he added.

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On some criticism that the RBI is the only central bank in the world which has not given estimated inflation and GDP numbers, Das said the current times are uncertain and the situation keeps changing very fast.

“So it is very difficult to give inflation or GDP numbers. In an uncertain situation like this, the RBI does not have the luxury of giving any numbers and then changing them two months later. We will start giving numbers when we have some amount of clarity.”
Das said the government’s response to absorb the negative economic impact of Covid-19 has been prudent and well-calibrated.

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He said the banking system is sound and safe, and banks must look sunrise sectors which can bounce back. “There will be newer business and newer risks in the context of COVID-19, so the banking sector need more reforms.”

Das said the banks also need to look at prospective business opportunities in the rural sector which remain unexplored despite efforts to support it. They need to look at start-ups, renewables, logistics, value chains and other such potential areas.

Das said the COVID-19 poses several challenges for banks and the financial sector. “Proactive action on various fronts will enable us to deal with these challenges effectively and maintain the soundness of the Indian banking system.”

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