RBI’s Payout is still not enough to plug the revenue hole created by Covid-19

Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance Minister, can assume extra payout from the Reserve Bank of India in the next weeks. Still, it isn’t apparent to fill a vast government revenue hole created by the novel coronavirus.

Governor Shaktikanta Das heads the Reserve Bank of India’s board. Since August is typically the month the Reserve Bank of India makes its annual transfer to the government, assumptions are driving high that the RBI will reveal its dividend payout.

In 2019, the central bank’s council transferred a record payment of Rs 1.76 trillion ($23.5 billion) to the government, which include Rs 1.23 trillion as earnings and Rs 526.4 billion from its surplus capital. This year, New Delhi has budgeted for a Rs 600 billion transfer, but local media has reflected authorities are expecting more. Critics and economists are calling anything between 400 billion to 1 trillion rupees.

“We are evaluating for Rs 400-500 billion, that can drop quickly of the budgeted levels and add due to the fiscal pressures,” said Kanika Pasricha, an economist at Standard Chartered Plc in Mumbai.​

Revenue is dropping quickly of predictions as India’s economy goes for its first full-year contraction in more than four decades. At the same time, the government is being forced to pay more to cushion the tragedy from the pandemic COVID-19, stretching the budget deficit. The government can improve to bridge the funding gap by bringing more cash out of the Reserve bank of India, sell state assets, and push up borrowing, which is already at a record high.

Standard Chartered foretells the government’s fiscal deficit will rise to 7.4% of the gross domestic product in the present fiscal year, more than twice the government’s original target.

With insufficient alternative revenue sources and the budget gap in the first three months of the fiscal year already standing at 83% of the full-year target, calls are growing for the RBI to directly finance the budgetary deficit. Central banks in Indonesia and the Philippines have already adopted this strategy. Those questioned to debt monetization in India cite risks to the nation’s credit rating and inflation that is already above the RBI’s 2%-6% target range.

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“To cope up with that debt, the government and the central bank need to go in for monetization of the monetary debt. A transfer of a few hundred billion rupees of additional reserves from the central bank is questionable to push the needle much for government finances, said Abhishek Gupta, India economist

The Central Bank of India shares dividends to the government every year, based on the profits from its investments, both home and abroad, and printing of notes and coins. In past years the government has been placing pressure on the central bank to boost its payouts. A specialist committee last year suggested the central bank could divide with some of its surplus capital.

“We are assuming a dividend of Rs 1.05 trillion that is based on higher revenue from domestic assets,” said A Prasanna, chief economist at ICICI Securities Primary Dealership in Mumbai. He assumes the central bank to establish out more than 700 billion rupees to have capital buffers.

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