RBI holds 29th Annual Conference of State Finance Secretaries

Addressing the Conference, Governor Dr. Rajan, highlighted the past achievements of the SFS Meetings and efficacy of the forum in addressing topical issues, which are of paramount importance to public at large. The Governor presented a snap shot of the macroeconomic situation, including how the efforts of the RBI in the last couple of years has aided macro-economic stability in terms of softening of inflationary pressures and relative stability of the currency.

The 29th Conference of the State Finance Secretaries (SFS) was held in Mumbai on June 17, 2016. The Conference was attended by Controller General of Accounts, Shri Mohan Joseph, Finance Secretaries of 28 States and Puducherry and the officials from Ministry of Finance and NITI Aayog. Dr Raghuram Rajan, Governor, Reserve Bank of India inaugurated the Conference. Shri Harun R. Khan, Dr Urjit Patel and Shri S. S. Mundra, Deputy Governors, and other officials of the Reserve Bank also attended the Conference.

Addressing the Conference, Governor Dr. Rajan, highlighted the past achievements of the SFS Meetings and efficacy of the forum in addressing topical issues, which are of paramount importance to public at large. The Governor presented a snap shot of the macroeconomic situation, including how the efforts of the RBI in the last couple of years has aided macro-economic stability in terms of softening of inflationary pressures and relative stability of the currency. He further highlighted that with the real interest rates turning positive, the savers have benefitted however the sovereigns, as issuers will need to be watchful in management of state finances. The Governor stressed on the need for States to explore ways for better cash management, adequate information dissemination of State finances, pro-active engagement with the investors and to explore the possibility of issuing innovative debt instruments on the lines of inflation index bonds and sovereign gold bonds.

Deputy Governor Shri Khan in his welcome remarks highlighted that the State Development Loans (SDL) assume greater significance, in the light of increased share of market borrowings to finance State fiscal deficit. He also deliberated upon the challenges the States face in view of the large issuances, reduction in Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR) and elevated supply due to the to Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) bonds. On the issue of cash management, the Deputy Governor impressed on the States to put in place a robust cash forecasting mechanism. In this connection, Reserve Bank will prepare a compendium of best practices in cash management in consultation with all stakeholders.

The Conference also deliberated on the need for the States to adopt some of the best practices in debt management that can bring down the cost of borrowing for the States on a medium to long term basis, improving liquidity and predictability in SDLs, diversification of investor base, elongating the maturity of issuances and easing the redemption pressures. For efficient debt management operations, the States were also advised to devise medium term debt management strategy, on the lines of the Central Government. Keeping in view, the importance of monitoring fiscal risks of contingent liabilities, it was decided to constitute a Working Group of select state finance secretaries, Ministry of Finance, Government of India and officials from the Reserve Bank to look into aspects relating to better monitoring and reporting of “Contingent Liabilities of the States”.  Other issues discussed in the meeting included the projected market borrowings of the State Governments for 2016-17, strengthening of Consolidated Sinking Fund/Guarantee Redemption Fund, migration of State Government business receipt/payment to electronic mode and enhancing the outreach of the banking services to remote areas of the country, particularly the north eastern region.

The Reserve Bank holds the Conference of the State Finance Secretaries every year. Over the years, this forum has facilitated key decisions on model fiscal responsibility legislation, revisions in limits on Ways and Means Advances and Overdraft Regulation Scheme, adoption of auction method for market borrowings and setting up the Consolidated Sinking Fund and Guarantee Redemption Fund, besides others.

Alpana Killawala
Principal Adviser

Press Release: 2015-2016/2942