Decoding RBI's expanding balance sheet, falling income, and high dividend : News Reel: Business Today
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Decoding RBI's expanding balance sheet, falling income, and high dividend

Anand Adhikari | May 31, 2021

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has been quite supportive post-Covid as it pumped in over Rs 15 lakh crore of liquidity, which was 8 per cent of the GDP. Undoubtedly, the surplus liquidity has helped the corporate sector and banks as they got low-cost funds and also enjoyed the benefits of moratoriums and loan restructuring. The low-interest rates also supported the government in raising huge market borrowings at the lowest cost in the last two decades. But these liquidity operations do entail some costs to the RBI. What surprised many the Rs 1 lakh crore dividend paid by the RBI to the government out of its surpluses in 2020-21. The financial year was of only nine months (July-March) as the central bank changed its accounting year from July-June to April-March. The RBI's annual account shows a net interest outgo of Rs 17,000 crore in liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) operations which include repo, reverse repo, and open market operations. The liquidity in the system also increased by way of RBI's foreign exchange buying operations. Today, the foreign exchange reserves cover the country's 18 months of imports, which is very high. These reserves are low-yielding. In a pandemic year, the RBI has also decided to keep the contingency risk buffer at a lower level of 5.5 per cent of its balance sheet against a higher band of 6.5 per cent. There are experts who suggest that RBI doesn't need a strong balance sheet as government banking exists if there is a crisis. But the bigger question is of central bank independence and the public trusts in the institution.

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