RBI governor Shaktikanta Das is Asia Pacific central banker of the year

RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das
Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das has been named the Central Banker of the Year, Asia-Pacific 2020, by the Banker magazine, a unit of Financial Times (FT). 

The award is given to central bankers who have “best managed to stimulate growth and stabilise their economy.”

Jorgovanka Tabakovi, National Bank of Serbia, was adjudged the winner as the Global Central Banker of the Year. The awards were announced in an editorial of the Banker magazine on January 2. 

Nominating Das, the magazine said India’s banks have faced a series of challenges, from non-performing loans to issues around fraud. Repeated economic slumps saw the central bank cut interest rates five times during 2019, and it was open to cutting them again, if necessary. 

“Faced with these challenges, Shaktikanta Das has taken steps to bring banking in India up to standard via a restrained approach to governance,” the magazine said.

“He has brought in measures to tighten the rules around shadow banking, refusing to bail out non-banking financial companies (NBFC). He is aiming instead for issues to be managed within the financial system, possible a risky move but one that will reduce dependence on the central bank,” the magazine said. 

According to banker, lenders outside the traditional bank network have been placed under greater levels of scrutiny under the RBI governor. Housing finance companies have been brought under the regulation of RBI and will adhere to the same rules framework of NBFCs.

While ensuring that smaller banks and urban cooperative banks install a robust IT system that will allow them to offer banking services at a lower cost and with safeguards to protect the customer, the banking system itself has not gone without scrutiny. 

“Das has been outspoken on the lack of governance in banking, calling for tighter rules for the state-owned banks, which comprise 60 per cent of India’s banking sector.”

The magazine lauded the governor for setting up a college for supervisors, and mandating banks to select external benchmarks for linking their lending rates.

“An environment of macroeconomic stability, as reflected in low and stable inflation, notwithstanding its recent spike that is expected to be transient; a sustainable current account deficit; and rising foreign exchange reserves have contributed towards maintaining financial stability and laying a platform for sustained growth,” he was quoted by the magazine.

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