Money & Banking
RBI exploring possibility of bank licensing process more frequent

According to Dr KC Chakrabarty, deputy governor, the central bank is considering making bank licensing more frequent to accommodate more banks

In order to expand the reach of banking, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is considering making the bank licensing process more frequent and allow free entry of banks as and when necessary.


“We propose to carry forward these ideas and come up with a detailed road map of necessary reform and regulations for free entry and making the licensing process more frequent after we get comments from the stakeholders,” said Dr KC Chakrabarty, deputy governor of RBI in New Delhi.


RBI is in the process of issuing new bank licences consistent with the highest standards of transparency and diligence. RBI has already come out with a discussion paper on the banking sector in India, on which the regulator has invited comments from stakeholders.


“The document explores the possibility of a differentiated licence for small banks and wholesale banks, the possibility of continuous on-tap licensing and the possibility of converting large urban co-operative banks into commercial banks,” he said.


Currently the central bank is in the process of issuing new bank licences for which it has received applications from 26 entities including public and private sector. The RBI is likely to issue the licences by January 2014.


The apex bank has already set up an external committee of financial sector experts, headed by former RBI Governor Bimal Jalan, to scrutinise the applications.


“With a view to ensuring that the banking system grows in size to meet the needs of a modern economy and improve access to banking services, the RBI is considering giving some additional banking licences to private sector players subject to their meeting our eligibility criteria,” Dr Chakrabarty said.


He further said the regulator is encouraging foreign banks to adopt the wholly-owned subsidiary model to carry out business in the country.


“We have more than 44 foreign banks in the country and at least three of them are more than 100 years old ... RBI will encourage qualifying foreign banks to move to a wholly-owned subsidiary structure that will enjoy near national treatment,” Chakrabarty said.


He further said the banking system is well capitalised. “Profitability is reasonable, return on equity is reasonable, NPA is under control and it meets with all global standards of regulation for business,” he added.


He said the Indian economy is facing challenges of high inflation, slow growth and investment, the current account deficit (CAD) is above sustainable levels and fiscal deficit high.


“It is the intent and objective of the Government to attract and promote foreign direct investment in order to supplement domestic capital, technology and skill for accelerated economic growth,” he said.




3 years ago

Whether 7 = free entry, or free entry > 7

Surat police issue lookout notice against Asaram's son Narayan Sai

Fresh sexual assault complaints were registered against controversial self-styled godman Asaram and his son Narayan Sai in Surat after two sisters accused the duo of abusing them

Surat police has issued a lookout notice against self-styled godman Asaram Bapu's son Narayan Sai, following fresh sexual abuse complaints against the father-son duo lodged by two sisters.


Surat Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana said, "We have issued a lookout notice against Narayan Sai, son of Asaram. We have informed immigration authorities that a grave offence has been registered against him. This (lookout notice) is a precautionary step so that he cannot leave the country".


Police teams have started investigation in the case and Narayan Sai is being traced, he said, adding that they have identified a few locations where he could be.


Yesterday, Asthana had said that they will interrogate Narayan Sai regarding the complaint.


Fresh sexual assault complaints were registered here yesterday against controversial self-styled godman Asaram and his son Narayan Sai after two sisters accused the duo of abusing them.


The complaint against Narayan Sai was registered at Jhangirpura Police Station in Surat, while the one against his father Asaram was transferred to Ahmedabad as the alleged incident happened there.


The elder sister in her complaint accused Asaram of repeated sexual assault between 1997 and 2006, during the time she had been living in his ashram on the outskirts of Ahmedabad city.


The younger sister filed a complaint against Asaram's son, accusing him of repeated sexual assault between 2002 and 2005 when she was living in their Surat ashram.


Police registered two complaints - one against Asaram and another against Narayan Sai - of rape, sexual assault, illegal confinement and other charges.


Asaram was arrested in August on charges of sexually assaulting a minor girl and has been in prison at Jodhpur in Rajasthan since then.


The tug-of-war between Reliance and DGH

The director general of hydrocarbons-DGH and the government nominee on the Reliance-operated east coast block, after the technical presentation felt that a quick decision can not be made in such a short space of time

The steep fall in gas production in KG-D6 has caused a lot of worry and heartburn to one and all when a technical presentation by the Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) team suggested that the government could consider appointing a third party international consultant to review the matter.


The DGH (director general of hydrocarbons) and the government nominee on the Reliance-operated East coast block, after the technical presentation felt that a quick decision can not be made in such a short space of time.


It may be mentioned that the Reliance-BP-Niko group suggested names of four leading international Reservoir Consultants, such as: Ryder Scott (Houston/Calgary), DeGoyer & MacNaughton (Dallas), Gaffney, Cline & Associates (London/Calgary) and Netherland Sewell & Associates (Dallas).


The management committee that oversees the operation of the block has nominees of contractors, DGH as well as the ministry. After reviewing the presentation, they may take further action, such as appointing an international reservoir consultant to investigate the reason for the fall.


This will only prove whether the claims made by Reliance that the fall in output is due to a geographical surprise and not due to exaggerated estimates made earlier. This will take us back to March 2011, when DGH issued a report that Reliance gas production from KG would go upto 67 mmscmd by April 2011, ie a month later! According to the web site visited, "How can an autonomous and independent agency like DGH give such a misleading report?" In fact, as the records will show, production began to fall soon afterwards.


According to Reliance, because of the water ingress, there has been a pressure drop in wells leading to lower production. Consultants hired by DGH, names not known, it appears, had recommended that drilling more wells could increase the production. Such a move is easier said than done, because extensive studies and surveys have to be made before planning a drill at a new site. This would be a time consuming process. However, the fact remains, that there is no information available if Reliance, did in fact do anything if at all, to source new wells because of the falling production of gas.


It is interesting to note that DGH was established in 1993 under the administrative control of ministry of petroleum and natural gas, primarily responsible for implementation of New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP); also to study new unexplored coal bed methane, gas hydrates, oil shale etc. Reservoir engineers from DGH are also involved in evaluation of initial testing; commerciality from reservoir point of view; mid-course correction of producing oil and gas fields; annual review of work progress of PSC's related to reservoir activities. Their responsibilities include appraisal and advice government on the adequacy of plans. It is simply a huge responsibility that DGH shoulders for development of hydrocarbons in the country.


As a matter of interest, it may be noted that in the KG basin itself, in 2002, Reliance discovered 14 tcf (trillion cubic feet) of gas; Gujarat State Petroleum found 20 tcf in 2005; in 2009 Reliance found 20 tcf of gas in D-3/09 and ONGC found 10 tcf in 2009. The work in these fields is reasonably satisfactory and one may expect some further discovery in the months ahead. The revision in gas price to $8.4 per mmbtu has been in debate as also the issue of non-supply of committed gas in the last couple of years, due to fall in production. All these have to be handled with care, just as the fixation of price in rupee terms and not in dollars, and even if this is done to draw a parallel to the international market situation, then the exchange rate needs to be fixed so as to avoid any dispute later.


In the event the government does not want to consider the recommended Reservoir consultants made by Reliance, for whatever reasons, there are so many others that are available. Web sites indicate names such as Belltree Group of UK, SiteLark of USA and Knowledge Reserve, Houston, Texas, USA. In fact, DGH may also have an approved list of Reservoir Consultants whose services could be utilized to resolve the Reliance issue.


But, as a matter of precaution, it may be wise to have the other reserves mentioned above, for the discoveries made by Reliance, Gujarat State Petroleum and ONGC, be also verified by seeking a second opinion.


Instead of dragging this issue further in appointing committees, a time frame needs to be set to complete the whole process. And, if the DGH do not have an in-house consultant of international reputation and track record, it is time they gone one in place, urgently.


(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)



Shankar Deb

3 years ago

Instead of procrastinating, an expert should be appointed immediately to break the log jam between the Govt and RIL.

An early resolution will enable the parties to get on with their work of increasing hydrocarbon production, and reduction of the CAD instead of constantly being adversarial.

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