MoF press release on FSDC.
- Does the FSDC amount to clipping RBI's wings?
- The FSDC is only a committee. It is not backed by law. So nothing changes about RBI's role and function.
- RBI staff have done speeches saying that financial stability is their job.
- The RBI Act does not contain the word `financial stability'. So while some in RBI might aspire to such a function, the present role and function of the RBI does not include financial stability.
- The FSDC is not a new law, it's merely a committee, so what changes? We already had the HLCC. What changes with the FSDC?
- The FSDC is intended to have a full-time technical secretariat which will work on the problems of financial stability and development. This is something the HLCC lacked. And, the HLCC was chaired by the RBI Governor. He was unable to resolve three classes of situations: (a) Differences between two financial agencies such as the ULIPs question, (b) Differences between two financial agencies when one of them was RBI and (c) Problems of financial stability which require system thinking, which no one Indian agency is good at understanding, given the silo system that is in place. The FSDC should fare better on all three fronts by virtue of being chaired by the finance minister (and backed by a strong secretariat).
- So will the FSDC help matters?
- It all depends on the staff quality that DEA is able to put into it. The "strong secretariat" is only an aspiration at the present moment.
- What is the right role for autonomy for an agency external to MoF?
- There are two clear areas where autonomy is required. The first is about specific transactions. As examples, what entities get bank licenses or exchange licenses? Or, when RBI/SEBI investigate Bank of Rajasthan or MCX-SX. It is highly desirable for MoF to be completely hands-off on these kinds of activities of agencies external to MoF. The second is about monetary policy, i.e. the setting of the short-term interest rate. For these two areas, there is a strong and clear case for de-politicisation and autonomy. In other questions, the case for autonomy is not clear-cut.
- So is it okay for MoF to meddle in the decisions of an external financial agency on subjects like the policy framework for exchange ownership, or the rules about private bank entry?
- The staff quality that DEA is able to put into these functions is supremely important. It is possible to do this right.
- Is FSDC opening a Pandora's box by asking too much of DEA staff quality?
- I think it is an attempt in the right direction. Largely speaking,
it is converting the existing de facto arrangements
into de jure with greater formal structure. If FSDC builds up
top quality staff, then it will make progress. Else, it will be
irrelevant and the present will continue mostly unchanged.
There will of course be ups and downs, but when I look back at the brainpower at DEA from 1993 onwards I feel optimistic about the expected value of FSDC.
The attempt at building a team which works on financial stability and development is an important and a good one. Success on putting together a top quality team cannot be taken for granted. But at the same time, if MoF had not tried this, there would have been a certainty that such a team would not have come together. It is possible to spin this in a gloomy way, but an oversupply of cynicism can crowd out attempts at progress.