PCA could be partly lifted on some of these PSU Banks

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) later this week would take the first step to explore whether prompt corrective action could be partly lifted on some of the state-owned lenders.

The central bank’s Board for Financial Supervision (BFS) is scheduled to meet on Thursday to analyse latest financials of the 11 banks under the PCA framework to decide on the matter, according to the committee’s agenda finalised a few days ago. The BFS members would give its recommendations to the RBI board which would take a final call on the contentious subject.

There is a consensus between the RBI and the government over the review of PCA framework. “About three PCA banks have shown some improvement. The board has to consider how PCA could be phased, what these banks could do in the next six months, and the role that the central government and RBI would play,” said a person familiar with the issue.

Under the PCA regime, banks are encouraged to avoid certain risky activities, improve operational efficiency and focus on conserving capital. But many bankers fear that continuance under the PCA regime for long could drive away large, creditworthy clients and further weaken the institutions.The government believes that substantial liquidity is trapped within these banks as they are largely confined to retail, mortgages and small loans, and are unable to participate in credit creation.

The 11 banks constitute about one-fourth of India’s banking industry, which is roughly the size of the country’s non-banking finance companies (excluding the housing finance firms). Many NBFCs are slowing down and shrinking their balance sheets to stay afloat.

The government will have to infuse capital in these banks to keep them alive. “Some of the banks under PCA programmer will have to be merged. But the Centre has to pump in money irrespective of whether a bank is merged or not. The question is whether to recapitalise the merged entity or the standalone institution,” said the person.

The banks on the PCA list are Dena Bank, Central Bank of India, Bank of Maharashtra, UCO Bank, IDBI Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Indian Overseas Bank, Corporation Bank, Bank of India, Allahabad Bank and United Bank of India. At the meeting this week, the BFS, whose primary objective is to “undertake consolidated supervision of the financial sector comprising commercial banks, financial institutions and non-banking finance companies”, is also expected discuss ways to shield institutions from cyber threats.

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