RBI Governor, in video conference with heads of public, private banks, discusses loan moratorium, post-lockdown credit

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das held meetings with heads of major public and private sector lenders through video conferencing on Saturday and discussed the current economic situation in the country. The RBI chief’s talks with the heads of banks comes a day after the government extended a 40-day nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Mr Das praised the efforts of banks “in ensuring normal to near normal operations” during the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

The RBI chief also discussed the credit flows to different sectors of the economy, including non-banking financial companies (NBFCs), microfinance institutions, housing finance companies and mutual funds.

Post-lockdown credit flows, including the provision of working capital, with a special focus on credit flows to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) were also part of the discussions.

The officials also discussed issues such as the implementation of the three-month moratorium on repayment of loan instalments and the stability of the financial sector.

The talks were held in two sessions via video conferencing, and were attended by the central bank’s deputy governors and other senior officers.

Meanwhile, the government on Friday further extended the lockdown for two more weeks beginning May 4, but with eased restrictions for green zones — districts where there are nil COVID-19 cases.

The Ministry of Home Affairs issued new guidelines to regulate activities during the extended lockdown based on risk profiling of districts into red, orange, green zones.

The Reserve Bank has already announced several steps to ease the pressure faced by borrowers, lenders and other entities including mutual funds and has promised to take more initiatives to deal with the developing situation.

The RBI has injected funds amounting to 3.2 per cent of GDP into the economy since the February 2020 monetary policy meeting to tackle the liquidity situation.

The Indian economy may be headed for a rare quarterly contraction during April-June as economic activities have come to a halt due to the coronavirus lockdown.

The government had earlier unveiled a Rs 1.7 lakh crore package of free foodgrains and cash doles to the poor to deal with the situation.

A second package, aimed at industries particularly small and medium enterprises that have been hit hard by the lockdown, is said to be in the works.

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