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RBI forms expert panel to explore consolidation of urban co-op banks

Committee to be headed by former RBI dy governor, submit report in three months

Reserve Bank of India | Urban cooperative banks

Subrata Panda  |  Mumbai 

Governor Shaktikanta Das has pledged to stay accommodative well into 2021 as he tries to dig the economy out of an unprecedented technical recession
Among the terms of reference, it has been asked to look into regulatory measures that the central bank has taken with respect to the UCBs and evaluate the impact it has had over the period of five years

The (RBI) on Monday said it has constituted an eight-member expert panel to draw up a regulatory road map for urban co-operative (UCBs) and study the sector’s consolidation prospects.

Among the terms of reference of this committee will be to suggest effective measures for faster rehabilitation and resolution of UCBs. It has been tasked to look into regulatory measures that the central bank has taken with respect to UCBs and evaluate the impact it has had over a period of five years. It has also been asked to suggest measures to strengthen the sector after amendments to the Banking Regulation Act, 1949, which gives the central bank more teeth to supervise them. The expert committee has been asked to submit its report within three months.

The expert committee will also evaluate the need for differential regulations and look at the prospect of allowing greater flexibility in permissible activities for UCBs with a view to enhance their resilience.

It has to come up with a vision document for a vibrant and resilient UCB sector, keeping in mind the interests of depositors and systemic issues, over a year after the crisis at Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative Bank remains unresolved.

The committee will be headed by former deputy governor of RBI N S Vishw­ana­than. Other members include former chairman National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Develop­ment Harsh Kumar Banwala, chartered accountant Mukund M Chitale, retired Indian Admini­str­ative Service offi­cers N C Muniyappa and R N Joshi, IIM Banga­lore Professor M S Sriram, president of National Federation of Urban Co-operative and Credit Societies Jyotindra M Mehta, and RBI Chief General Manager-in-Charge Neeraj Nigam.

Vidyadhar Anaskar, chairman of Maharashtra Urban Co-operative Federation, said the terms of reference of the panel make it clear that the aim is to shrink space for UCBs by pushing for consolidation. There is just one person on the panel who has direct experience of working and managing UCBs. The experience with committees formed earlier to address issues faced by UCBs and implementation is unsatisfactory, Anaskar said, adding the approach adopted by the RBI is hardly conducive for growth of the sector.

India’s UCBs were brought under the ambit of the Banking Regulation (Amend­ment) Act, 2020, from June 26, 2020.

The central bank had said on February 5 that there was now near-parity between UCBs and commercial banks in respect of regulatory powers, including those related to governance, audit, and resolution.

As of March 2020, 1,539 UCBs held Rs 5.01 trillion in customer deposits and Rs 3.05 trillion in advances.

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First Published: Mon, February 15 2021. 16:33 IST