Jalan panel proposes 'nominal' transfer of RBI funds to govt over 3-5 years

Former RBI Governor Bimal Jalan
The Union government may not get the windfall gain it was expecting from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) reserves as the Bimal Jalan committee, tasked with reviewing the central bank’s economic capital framework, has proposed a “nominal” transfer of surplus to the central government in a phased manner, according to a source in the know.

“The report has proposed a formula for a nominal transfer of a portion of the RBI’s reserves to the central government in a period of three-five years. This is in line with the current practice being followed by the RBI for transferring dividend annually,” a person close to the development said.

The person said the panel members might “not be unanimous” on the suggestions the committee made. These will be submitted to RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das “in a few days”. The RBI’s central board, headed by Das, will take up the matter.

The report would likely include a dissent note by Finance Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg, who is the government’s representative on the panel.

 
The committee has recommended a periodic review of the RBI’s economic capital framework, according to the source.

Initially, the finance ministry had expected around Rs 3 trillion from the RBI’s reserve funds, which were at the heart of a conflict between the regulator and the government last year.

On the insistence of the finance ministry, the central board of the RBI formed a six-member committee — headed by Jalan and co-chaired by former RBI deputy governor Rakesh Mohan — in December to review the central bank’s economic capital framework.

The main difference of opinion within the panel was over transferring the RBI’s “excess” capital reserves. While most panel members are in favour of a phased transfer of the RBI’s capital reserves to the government over the years, the government's view, voiced by Garg, was for a one-time transfer. 

For this financial year, the government had accounted for around Rs 20,000 crore as “additional dividend” from the RBI, a finance ministry official said. This, the official said, is unlikely to happen.

In the Receipts Budget, allocation towards the “dividend or surplus of RBI, nationalised banks and financial institutions” was increased by Rs 23,130 crore to Rs 1.06 trillion in 2019-20, compared to the Interim Budget.