The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has indicated giving relaxations to banks on the audit of branches for 2019-20, as they face challenges in managing branch networks owing to the coronavirus lockdown. RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das on Saturday met heads of major banks, both from the public and private sectors, in two separate sessions through videoconferencing to review the current economic situation, liquidity to non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), and the issue of a moratorium on loan repayments, among other things.
Das reportedly chastised the banks for not doing enough on lending and NBFC liquidity. He was also upset about the failure of the Targeted Long Term Repo Operations 2.0 (TLTRO 2.0), but there was no warning or instruction. “The RBI can only urge,” said a person who was present in the meeting. The RBI also dwelled on preparations for conducting business after the lockdown.
The meetings were also attended by Deputy Governors M D Patra and
M K Jain, besides other senior officers of the central bank, the RBI said in a statement.
According to the statement, the RBI governor took stock of “credit flows to different sectors of the economy, including liquidity to NBFCs, microfinance institutions (MFIs), house finance companies (HFCs), and mutual funds”.
Senior bank executives aware of deliberations said banks, including State Bank of India, were examining proposals for providing liquidity to NBFCs, HFCs and MFIs. Some of the assistance will be without using RBI’s liquidity windows (TLTRO) as banks are sitting on huge surplus money, they said. Preparations for results for the fourth quarter and FY20 by banks also came up for discussion.
Everything can’t be done remotely and physical movement of auditors to branches is necessary, banking sources said, adding that the emphasis was on doing this under due care to minimise health risks.
There are some relaxations in terms of the number of branches to be covered under the audit plan. The Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) has made some suggestions to the banking regulator on audit activity. However, the RBI did not specify steps in this regard, bankers said.
The governor appreciated efforts of banks in ensuring normal to near-normal operations during the lockdown, and stressed on post-lockdown credit flows, including for working capital, “with special focus on credit flows to MSMEs”, the statement said.
Banks have conveyed they will adopt a segmented approach to scale up operations in the post-lockdown phase, and will first focus on green zones.