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Economy & Nation Exclusive
RBI Monetary Policy for 2012-2013: Policy on deposit rates requires change

There is a disparity between retail and the wholesale deposits. Banks tend to look for bulk deposits whenever they are faced with tight liquidity position and one of the easiest ways to meet their cash reserve requirements is by raising resources through this route even at higher rates

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has been de-regulating interest rates on bank deposits in bits and pieces over the last several years. While doing so, it has created an artificial divide between the rich and poor by taking an arbitrary decision in allowing banks to offer differential interest rates on deposits. In the case of fixed deposits, RBI had allowed banks to offer higher or lower than the normal interest rates for single-term deposits of Rs15 lakh and above. Again while de-regulating interest rates on SB (savings bank) accounts, the RBI once again created an arbitrary divide by stipulating that banks are free to offer different rates for SB depositors maintaining a balance in excess of Rs1 lakh in the account. The RBI has never given any rational explanation for allowing such discrimination between the rich and the poor depositors, nor has it come out with any empirical study to decide on the basis of differentiation and to assess the impact of such decision on the banks and on the public at large. And most of the banks offer higher than the normal rates to these rich depositors to attract them into their fold. 

Surprisingly in its annual monetary policy for 2012-2013 announced recently, the central bank came out with a direction to the banks reading as under:

“84. The Reserve Bank has stipulated, inter alia, that banks should not discriminate in the matter of interest rate paid on deposits, except in respect of fixed deposit schemes specifically meant for resident Indian senior citizens and single term deposits of Rs1.5 million and above. However, it is observed that there are wide variations in banks’ retail and bulk deposits rates, making it unfair to retail depositors. Further, banks are offering significantly different rates on deposits with very little difference in maturities. This suggests inadequate liquidity management system and inadequate pricing methodologies. It is, therefore, advised that: 

• banks should have a board approved transparent policy on pricing of liabilities and they should also ensure that variation in interest rates on single term deposits of Rs1.5 million and above and other term deposits is minimal.”

This direction of the RBI amounting to doublespeak is again couched in a language that leaves enough leeway for banks to go for bulk deposits at higher rates, more so when liquidity is tight and the normal deposit growth is not adequate to meet the credit demand. Besides, the RBI is well aware of the manner in which banks raised a whopping Rs2 lakh crore of deposits at high cost during the last week of March 2012 to window dress their balance sheets, making use of the freedom given to banks to offer higher rates on bulk deposits. As per media reports, during the end of the last financial year, the gap between retail and corporate deposits rose to as high as 3.5%. 

If the wide variation in banks’ retail and bulk deposit rates is unfair to retail depositors as stated by the RBI, it is very clear that the original decision of RBI in permitting higher rates on bulk deposits itself was unfair and should not have been allowed in the first instance itself. In a country where 37% of our population is living below the poverty line, nearly 50% of the population does not have a bank account and where financial literacy even among the educated middle class is low, the very principle of pampering the rich at the cost of the poor, without any rational explanation, is neither fair nor equitable. Yes, this is at the cost of the poor, because, nearly 70% of the banking business in India is with public sector banks, and if they have to shell out more to the rich by way of higher interest, it is at the cost of the taxpayer, as the exchequer has to provide additional capital to these banks year after year even at the risk of fiscal deficit hurting the common man. 

As mentioned above, the RBI feels that the inadequate liquidity management system and inadequate pricing methodologies followed by banks as the reason for disparity between the retail and the wholesale deposits. But the fact of the matter is that banks tend to look for bulk deposits whenever they are faced with tight liquidity position and one of the easiest ways to meet their cash reserve requirements is by raising resources through this route even at higher rates, as this is well within the norms presently laid down by the regulator. 

While the retail depositors are at the mercy of the banks, the rich and the wealthy are able to extract better rates from the banks only because of the lacuna in the system created by the RBI in permitting higher rates for bulk deposits. There is a perfectly justifiable reason to allow a higher rate of interest to senior citizens who make a living from their earnings through the interest earned on bank deposits, but there is no rhyme or reason to offer higher rates to corporate and high net-worth individuals (HNI), who have much wider opportunity to deploy their funds profitably. In fact banks do have another route to raise resources from corporates and HNIs by offering market rates whenever they are hard pressed for resources and that is through the issue of Certificate of Deposits (CDs), which are governed by separate directives of RBI.

Instead of shedding crocodile tears for retail depositors, the RBI should come out with stringent norms and stipulate that the rate of interest offered to the retail depositors should be the cap or the maximum rate, and all bulk deposits should carry interest rates within this rate offered to the general public. This is in the interest of equity and fairness towards them and to ensure that the big sharks do not take the banks for a ride or take undue advantage of the banks’ predicament arising out of the tight money conditions prevailing in the market. 

However, banks should be free to offer rates lower than the retail deposit rates to bulk depositors, if the banks so choose to keep their interest costs under control, having regard to their own funds position and cost of funds, etc. The only exception to be made is in respect of the interest rate offered to senior citizens, who for reasons stated above are to be allowed higher rates than that offered on retail deposits with a view to give them a helping hand to enable them to live with dignity during their sun set years.  

(The author is a banking analyst and he writes for Moneylife under the pen-name ‘Gurpur’)

 

 

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Public Interest Exclusive
Enrica Lexie: Why is the DG Shipping so hesitant to take action?

The complete Enrica Lexie/St Antony episode is not a private issue between an Italian ship and an Indian fishing boat. We cannot, as a country, afford to be lenient in this case; we need to know the Directorate General of Shipping is being so hesitant in taking any action in this case

The latest twist in the Enrica Lexie/St Antony episode, covered by Moneylife extensively in the past, has taken the breath of many in India’s maritime community for its sheer audacity. Even in the worst of colonial era rule over pre-Independence India did we not experience the kind of blatant arrogance that the Italians are displaying in this case?

http://www.moneylife.in/article/why-are-our-seafarers-still-getting-killed-on-our-coast/24156.html

http://www.moneylife.in/article/indias-weakening-maritime-power/24869.html

Most certainly, compensation is rightfully due, and if paid by the Italians then there is a word that is often used in such cases as an ad-hoc interim compensation. This means, strictly with no strings attached and no subvention or compromising of the larger legal position. Interfering in due process of law and encouraging perjury, as it appears is happening, is serious.

Paying money is another matter altogether—something like taking responsibility for a moral payout, from a stronger entity to the weaker, more to help tide over difficult times. Certainly not to promote something like what the arrangement between the Italians and the families of the Kerala fishermen has done, which apart from disrespecting their own dear departed, is also interfering with the due process of law.

The complete Enrica Lexie/St Antony episode is not a private issue between an Italian ship and an Indian fishing boat, which can be settled by a payment like it would be for buying fish. There are many other parties involved. The larger issues involve maritime laws, economic security, energy security and future precedences. Apart from the central and state governments, there is the issue of the ship-owner. We still do not know who the beneficiary owner of this ship is. Then there is the issue of the 19 Indians onboard, held against their will for over two months now, unable to go ashore for things like medical check-ups or basic necessities of life. Would they not be entitled to sue the families for giving false complaints in the first case?

But the most important aspect of this episode on which we have yet no information in the public domain is the way in which the ship itself as well as the owners have not yet provided any information on the status of the log books, the voice data recorder, other data recorders and most of all, the information on the private and personal computers carried by people on board. I am unable to reveal my sources, but it is reliably learnt that:

  • The Indian crew onboard the Enrica Lexie have not even been instructed to participate in an enquiry by the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS). This would be the normal procedure, and would run concurrently with the legal process.
  • It has been attributed that in addition to the compensation, certain family members of those killed have been promised Italian citizenship, though this is difficult to believe. If true, then the chances of witnesses abdicating are always high, since Sri Lanka is just a hop-skip-and-jump away.
  • Some records about the destination of the Enrica Lexie, which was said to have been heading for Fujairah, have been altered to state that the ship was headed for the Suez Canal.
  • The issue about two Masters (captains) onboard the Enrica Lexie has not been responded to or answered as yet.
  • There are inputs from the Indian Coast Guard, Indian Navy, as well as evidence from satellite which need to be brought to the table—is it true that the DGS is preventing this? Why has the DGS still not filed a complaint at the Yellow Gate Police Station in Mumbai?
  • We have no idea if questions have been asked by our investigating agencies or the DGS or state/central government on ‘unilateral’ laws by Italy, e.g. on the absence of SOFA, non-declared rules of engagement, Master’s authority over-ridden.
  • We have still no idea on whether the Indian authorities have insisted on whether the Enrica Lexie adhered to EMDM (European Maritime Data Management)—038374, Report on existing VDR and SVDR legislation dated 6 August 2008, which states that “In the event of an incident it is the owner’s duty to remove and preserve the VDR for investigation purposes at the earliest possible opportunity.”
  • There is also no response by the owners of Enrica Lexie on the basis which they tried to implicate the Olympic Flair as the suspect vessel earlier on.

The question arises—what would, typically, happen in such cases, in other countries? Here’s how it would in all likelihood go:

  • The government as well as the courts would insist that the beneficiary owners of the ship come out from behind their corporate veil and stand in front of them with clean hands.
  • The other entities—ship-managers, operators, charterers, crew, mercenaries—would all go through due process to assess liabilities.
  • The vessel itself—if there was full co-operation from the beginning—could be released on substantial bonds and securities, some in cash.
  • If, however, the vessel or its crew, owners or others were party to displaying disrespect and initial resistance of accepting the validity of the law, then exemplary action by way of indefinite detention pending trial would be the norm.

We cannot, as a country, afford to be lenient in this case. And we need to know why the office of the Directorate General of Shipping is being so hesitant in taking any action in this case.

(Veeresh Malik had a long career in the Merchant Navy, which he left in 1983. He has qualifications in ship-broking and chartering, loves to travel, and has been in print and electronic media for over two decades. After starting and selling a couple of companies, is now back to his first love—writing.)

 

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COMMENTS

Veeresh Malik

3 years ago

Latest update.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news...

"Italian marines pressurised Captain to cover up

Guptan Veemboor

5 years ago

Can Mr.Veeresh Malik or anyone else please tell what is the state of MV Prabhu Daya? The families of the killed fishermen got 25 lakhs and the owner of the sunk boat got 55 lakhs and have withdrawn the civil suits. But what about the criminal part of the incident? A case was registered against the captain and two crew members. Has that case been withdrawn?

REPLY

malq

In Reply to Guptan Veemboor 5 years ago

The Prabhu Daya / Don2 case continues, the law takes its course, and I do believe there were no fire-arms used there.

rgds/VM

Guptan Veemboor

In Reply to malq 5 years ago

Thank you Mr.Malik. In the case of Prabhu Daya as you said no firearms were used. The ship itself collided with the boat and sank it. So the ship is to be considered as a weapon used for killing. I got an answer from some one who told that "''Yes, I am a leagal person. The case in Chennai has no comparison with the case of the Italian ship.You will appreciate that in criminal jurisprudence, while a trial takes place all insturments used in the commission of the crime, if available, are to be produced before the court as material objects for facilititaing a proper trial. In this case, the ship is considered to be an instrument in the process of commission of offence. In the other case in Chennai, the building was never used as an instrument in the commissin of crime though it may have been the venue of the alleged crime.Thank you.''. Unfortunately I could not get further clarification as Times of India removed both of our comments and I could not write to him again. He has told that ship Enrica Lexie is an instrument for the crime and as such it can be called as material witness. If so MV Prabhu Daya is more involved in the killing as it was the ship which collided with the boat and sank it. So was the same stipulations made? There, as far as I know the Prabhu Daya was detained only with regard to the civil case of compensation for the victims families and the owner of the boat which was sunk in the collision.
Mr.Malik please don't mistake that I am fighting for the Italians. I do not have any interest in it. I am happy that the poor families got a decent compensation also. I am only interested in knowing the truth. I have a lot of suspicion on the case being presented by the Government of Kerala. What exactly did happen there at the incidence of shooting. I cannot just believe the Marines were trigger happy and killed the two fishermen. That will come only on trial and Freddy the owner of the boat is the man who can tell the truth. What he has told police need not be the truth. He is an illiterate person and he would have constructed the happenings with so much external help. On a cross examination the truth will come. I am just like Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot just wanting to know what happened.
And incidentally I don't put the whole blame on Prabhu Daya for the collision. The boat crew is also equally at fault as they did not keep a watch and had there been one they also could have avoided the collision. Prabhu Daya has done the most despicable act that it did not stop to rescue the survivors. Did I tell this earlier?

Ashok Malkani

5 years ago

Look at the facts :
The guards who shot the fishermen are Italians. That ammounts to a great deal in India.

I do not know if the Enrica Lexie is of Italian Flag but a great deal of Italian capital is at play here .

Nothing happened to Quattrochi, and I don't believe No 10 Janpath , will allow anythingh adverse to befall the Italians.

The affected families have been paid " blood money " the vessel has posted bonds /guarantees and sailed
There now remains the matter of the two marines. Well, Ajmal Kassab is running up bills in the Arthur Road Prison and nothing is happening to him.

The Italians will be deported out of India, and to be tried suitably in their own country , under their law.

That should conclude this sad episode
to mutual satisfaction of the affected parties.

Rgds



Aban

5 years ago

The answer to the question posed is that the person concerned must have been selected for the position after considering many imponderables, he is answerable to higher authorities and gets instructed by them.

Ludo from Italy

5 years ago

Quite interesting, look our positions., please,
10KU
Ludo

Guptan Veemboor

5 years ago

Mr.Veeresh Malik, I am writing this just for the sake of discussing this case from an independent position. Like a man from Mars looking at it.

You said that the boat was Indian and persons killed were Indians and so India has full right to try the Italian Marines as per Indian laws. Now let me ask you one doubt. First let us assume the geographical position is beyond the 200 nautical limits and hence it is undoubtedly international waters. There are two ships. Ship A from country A and ship B from country B. Someone from ship A shoots at ship B and kills a citizen of country B. Reason for shooting is not relevant for my hypothetical case. In mid sea cases we assume that Ship is a floating piece of country A and ship B is a floating piece of Country B. Which country should try the case. It is a citizen of B on the territory of country B who has been killed. So is it country B which should try the case? Now take another hypothetical case. Let us assume that a soldier posted at India- Pakistan border see someone moving suspiciously in the Pakistan side. Suspecting him to be a terrorist trying to infiltrate he shoots and kills him. Whether the soldier challenged him or such things are not relevant to this hypothetical situation. Who should try the case? India or Pakistan? It is a Pakistani citizen who was killed in Pakistani soil. So is it not Pakistan which should try the case? Will that soldier handed over to Pakistan for trial?
So is there not merit in this Enrica Lexie case when Italy says that the shooting happened in international waters and hence it is Italy which should try the case? So first the exact location of the incident should be ascertained. If it was within 12 nautical miles there is no ambiguity. The problem is if it was in the Contiguous Zone or EEZ. So in my opinion is Supreme Court should first call for records to establish the place of incidence. And then decide as per the United Nations Maritime Laws to which India is also a party.
I have an idea to find how far the place of shooting from the shore if the time of incidence is clearly known. The boat St.Antony reached the police station on shore well past night 10 o'clock. The exact time is available. The boat should have come at maximum speed it can as there were two dead bodies in it and the owner will be in a hurry to report the case. If the incidence has taken at 4 pm and it reached say 10 pm it has taken 6 hrs. So at a speed of 9 knots it should have covered a distance of 54 nautical miles. Leaving margin to any error due to the fact that the place of incidence need not be perpendicular to the spot where the boat landed on shore it can be safely assumed to have happened some 40 nautical miles off the Indian shore. Or am I wrong?
All these are for the sake of argument. Yours, Guptan Veemboor

REPLY

malq

In Reply to Guptan Veemboor 5 years ago

Thank you for your ongoing discussion.

1) i am sure the factual issues, like distance from coast, speed of boat, time taken under prevailing conditions of tide/current/angular distance away etcetc can be re-confirmed. If the authorities, especially the DGS, want to do so. Most of that evidence will be onboard the ENRICA LEXIE, and it is a pity that this evidence has not been secured; instead we are letting it sail away.

2) When there is a conflict between international law and national interest, then the prevailing right (whether by might or whether by design) is for national interest to be given precedence. And national interest tells me that nobody should ever again have the guts to even dream about coming close to my country and shooting my people on my boats/ships - and this is how all self-respecting countries conduct themselves.

Humbly submitted/VM

Guptan Veemboor

In Reply to malq 5 years ago

Mr.Mallik, I don't know how I missed your mail these two days. Otherwise I would have replied earlier. Mr.Malik you have told that ultimately it is the national interest which plays more important role and that you don't want an Italian or any other foreign ship to come near our coast and shoot one of our people. But such a thing could happen to one our own sailors also? If one of our ship is sailing near the African coast and a boat full of Africans approach and one of our sailors mistaking them for pirates and shoot and later it was known that they were not pirates but were some ship wrecked people, and if our sailor is arrested what you will feel? I am telling this this type of shooting by mistake can happen to anybody. It is not a trigger happy person who shot but someone who mistook the fishermen. Why do you want to look at it as it is the arrogant white man shooting a poor black native? We have moved from the time of rough justice when the culprit is hung on the nearest tree. It should go through the proper path of law. We should follow the international convention. We too could be a victim of some occurrence like this. Did not many big offenders as in Jessica Lal or Tandoori Sharma or BMW mowing of innocents and all escape punishment? How many poor are killed by influential and all of the go unpunished? I am not telling the Italians need not punished. Let them be tried either here or in Italy as per due procedures. Yours, Guptan Veemboor.
PS. I am actually very interested to know what happened. What Freddy will be telling in the court? How he will be questioned by the defense lawyers?

Guptan Veemboor

5 years ago

You being an ex-merchant navy man I have no right to ask about the maritime matters. What I am telling is just general thing. The case is criminal case. It is State of Kerala versus Two Italian Marines who are accused of killing two Indian nationals. It is a murder case and individuals have no locus standi as far as the criminal case is involved. The families or dependents have a say on the quantum of compensation only which is a civil matter. This civil matter is also settled along with the criminal case when the guilty is punished as the judge will decide the quantum of compensation to be paid to the dependents of the victim. Whether the families of the victims take money from the people of the accused cannot alter the course of criminal case at all. In this case they are not witnesses even so that they may turn hostile. The incident happened mid-sea miles away from where the families were staying. So all this noise that Italian Government is bribing the families or trying to keep their mouth shut is meaningless. Even after this payment the court can decide when the final judgement is made the quantum of compensation to be paid irrespective of what the families got earlier from Italian Government. The families had submitted application in the court that the ship should not be released before their compensation was settled. Now as they are satisfied with the compensation they have no objection for the ship to be released. They have not told anything of releasing the Marines. Even if they say they should be released it has no meaning and significance in the case. The owner of the boat Freddy also has told of not to release the ship till he got compensation for the damages to his boat. He got it and as far as he also is concerned the ship need not be held. There also there is no question of releasing the Marines was told. So the case of killing will go as it should be without any hindrance. And all the requests from the families and the owner Freddy had gone through courts and it was all done with courts approval. There is no substance in blaming the families or Freddy. And I think the shortcomings you have pointed out as that of Director General of Shipping is really that of the Kerala Police which is doing the investigations. It is their responsibility to check the relevant records and call the concerned witnesses. The have their technical team also to check the relevant data.

REPLY

malq

In Reply to Guptan Veemboor 5 years ago

Thank you for writing in, points well taken, and today's decisions by the Supreme Court in Delhi are now in the public domain.

The issue I am trying to bring out here is the role of the DG Shipping. Under the MSA.

#An Indian flag fishing vessel with Indian nationals onboard.
# An Italian flag ship with Indian nationals onboard serving under Articles signed in India with DG Shipping/Shipping Master as a party.
# A ship in India's Economic Zone.
# Directly impacting various aspects of India's sovereignity and security.

+++

Are we the only country which has to bow and bend, for the past 4-500 years, to the colonials?

Regards/VM

Guptan Veemboor

In Reply to malq 5 years ago

Mr.Malik, I am not going into the aspect of which country has authority to take action against the wrong doers. The maritime laws are a bit loose and not water tight as that of the land. What I want to stress is that it is the primary responsibility of Kerala Police to take action against perpetrators of the crime. For example if the data on the VDR has not been preserved it is the responsibility of the captain of the ship. So too if any other relevant data has been tampered with. Why then the captain was not taken into custody. The Marines may not be under his control but the data and all materials is under his control and he is responsible. If the police was suspecting any tampering with relevant evidence he should have been arrested. What I tell is not to give an impression that the Marines are guilty. For that the jurisdiction of courts should first be settled. I am telling of the situation of the on going investigation assuming, I repeat assuming, India has authority to prosecute. It looks to me the prosecution is not sure of in which way to go ahead. That is why they are thinking of taking up SUA Act. Now there is another trouble for prosecution. The boat owner Freddy when he got 17 lakhs forgot everything and made some statements which is very damaging for prosecution. I feel prosecution will not dare to put him on stand as on cross examination the defense council make a mincemeat of him. So SUA Act will be more safe. Nice to correspond with you. Guptan Veemboor

malq

In Reply to Guptan Veemboor 5 years ago

Dear Guptan ji, even I am very keen to know why the Master and the other crew members involved were not investigated as accomplices or otherwise, especially in context with log books and data recorders.

It is a simple fact - a Master has all the privilege to refuse to sail a ship when he is not fully in command, but if he voluntarily agrees to relinquish that essential component of being a Master, then he can not seek exemption later on from possible prosecution on the same grounds.

I too have batchmates and friends who are Masters on ships in similar situations, and if they are faced with a situation where an armed guard takes independent actions or tries to supercede the Master, then I am aware that they have turned the ships around, mustered the crew, and informed the owner that the vessel is likely to declare either a mutiny or NUC or even worse.

As far as authority to prosecute is concerned, the main point is that a crime has been committed against an Indian on an Indian ship, what more do we want?

There are other cases currently being prosecuted in various Courts in India, which have similar or lesser validations on whether they can be prosecuted in Indian courts, and only on the grounds that the victim was an Indian, continue.

I can name some of them, but the most prominent and close to me pertains to Capt. Rajan Agarwal, my schoolmate, Indian citizen murdered onboard the Panama flag ship CRIMSON GALAXY, 2004, on passage between Argentine and Egypt - the trial took and takes place in India.

International waters are fine, but Indians have been killed on an Indian fishing boat, where is the question about jurisdiction?

Next - evidence. There are satellite inputs, there are inputs on communications between ship and shore by various means, and most of all, there are witnesses onboard - some of whom were reported to have made video records. Nothing has been done to take that forward?

That is why I am saying - DGS could and should have done something. That they did not is simple to explain - look at the record of people who have worked at DGS and work at DGS and work in various shipping companies - it will be bigger than any DGCA scam.

Humbly submitted/VM

Sanjeev Pande

5 years ago

Yes, indeed, the DGS has a lot of answering to do. In the initial articles on this incident I was struck by what one of the relatives/friends of the victim's families said. He said something like "What can we hapless fishermen do except shake in terror next time we see a merchant vessel bearing down on us while we were out fishing thinking she will surely shoot us as to them we were all pirates?"
This notion that by paying money to the victims allows one to get away with murder in India must never be allowed to take hold. That is why the authorities must enforce the law regardless of what settlements take place. If it is found that the victims, by their act of withdrawing their complaints against 'compensation' are obstrcuting the enforcement of the law, then they too should face the music. The vital public interest issues raised by this case cannot be subverted by private settlements.

REPLY

malq

In Reply to Sanjeev Pande 5 years ago

Dear Sanjeev, thank you for writing in, and yes, the DGS has evolved into an organisation which like a school bully, tries to petrify and terrorise seafarers as well as others while behaving like a simpering wimp otherwise.

The simple fact is that when a railway or aircraft accident takes place, a public enquiry is held, and it is done in an accountable way with open access to public as well as other stakeholders who are encouraged to take part in audits. With shipping, it is the opposite, with our mandarins pretending that they are the sole arbitors of any and all knowledge.

Which then raises the next question - what is the solution?

rgds/VM

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