Law doesn't allow transfer of RBI reserves to govt: YH Malegam

P Chidambaram during his press meet at West Bengal Pradesh Congress office at Bidhan Bhawan in Kolkata on Thursday

The economic affairs secretary was confident about the government's ability to meet the fiscal deficit target for the current fiscal year and reiterated the government stand that it will adhere to fiscal prudence.

Chidambaram alleged that the government had packed the central bank's board with handpicked nominees and was making every attempt to push through its proposals at the RBI board meeting on 19 November.

He said the government's fiscal math "is completely on track" and dismissed media reports earlier this week that it was seeking Rs 3.6 lakh crore ($49.51 billion) from the Reserve Bank of India's reserves.

In a speech last month, RBI deputy governor Viral Acharya listed challenges to the independence of the RBI and said: "Having adequate reserves to bear any losses that arise from central bank operations and having appropriate rules to allocate profits (including rules that govern the accumulation of capital and reserves) is considered an important part of central bank's independence from the government". The RBI was reported to be against the proposal.

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Dismissing talk of fiscal deficit crisis, Garg said, "Government's FD in FY 2013-14 was 5.1%".

The matter is pending before the board of the Reserve Bank of India and is likely to be taken up again at its next meeting likely on 19 November, the official told reporters, asking not to be identified citing rules. "Finding all avenues closed, in desperation, the government has demanded Rs 1 lakh crore from the reserves of RBI", the former finance minister said at a press conference.

A senior finance ministry official confirmed that the idea originated during the UPA tenure and also the need to fix how much surplus reserve RBI should keep and how much it should transfer to the government. From 2014-15 onwards, the government brought this down substantially. "Government has actually foregone Rs 70000 crore of budgeted market borrowing this year".

These are valuation reserves for dealing with volatility in foreign exchange holdings and government securities, asset development reserves for taking care of depreciation and other asset-related costs, and a contingency reserve to take care of any unforeseen emergencies.

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