Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday criticised the Reserve Bank of India for failing to check indiscriminate lending during 2008 and 2014 that has led to the present bad loan or NPA crisis in the banking industry.
The remarks came amid reports of mounting tension between the finance ministry and the RBI over the autonomy of monetary policy makers.
RBI Deputy Governor Viral V Acharya in a speech on Friday stated that undermining the central bank’s independence could be “potentially catastrophic”. This was seen as a veiled reference to RBI pushing back hard against government pressure to relax its policies and reduce its powers.
“You see (between) 2008 to 2014, after the global economic crisis, to keep the economy artificially going, banks were told open your doors and lend indiscriminately,” Jaitley said at India Leadership Summit organised by US-India Strategic Partnership Forum.
“The central bank looked the other way, there was indiscriminate lending,” he said.
The government of the day, he said, was pushing banks to lend which resulted in credit growth in a year shooting up to 31 per cent from the normal average of 14 per cent.
Jaitley said that reforms undertaken by the government have led to significant improvement in revenues. “My own estimation is that from 2014 to 2019, we will be almost very close to doubling our tax base,” he said.
Recounting achievements of the government, Jaitley said all villages are close to being connected by roads, the target of houses for all is likely to be achieved by 2022 and all households will have electricity by year-end.
“I think the whole concept of governance has seen a sea change,” he said adding corporate leaders no longer visit corridors of power because approvals are available online and discretion in the allocation of natural resources like coal mines or spectrum has been eliminated.
This, he said, has eliminated corruption.
While those who honestly paid taxes had nothing to worry, those who evaded “had to pay a heavy price” as notices were sent and they asked to deposit taxes on unaccounted cash, he said.